THE PALLILOG

Texans season now hangs in the balance after debacle against Broncos

Friday the 13th. Triskaidekophobes' worst nightmare. It's silliness. Like believing in the Texans as Super Bowl contenders.

So how did the Texans go from toppling the 10-1 Patriots one Sunday, to having the 4-8 Broncos humiliate them the next? That is what mediocrity is all about, Houston Texans style. Imagine how ugly it would have gotten had the Broncos not had to deal with the intimidation factor of playing under a closed roof on a gorgeous autumn afternoon. There was a surprising number of no shows for an 8-4 home team off of two quality wins. Coincidence? Certainly not entirely. Ticket holders who opted to stay away joined essentially the entire team in no-showing.

With their record 8-5 the odds still favor the Texans making the playoffs. Winning two of the remaining three games does the job (and secures other one of those cute little AFC South Champion banners!). Of course, the odds favored the Texans not trailing 31-3 at home at halftime to a Broncos' team that hadn't scored more than 24 points in any game all season. Winning one to finish 9-7 could mean a Wild Card. Yippee!

They are only three point underdogs at Tennessee Sunday. If the Texans' feeble pass rush can't pick it up the Texans' D figures to be D-stroyed again. Ryan Tannehill's career revival with the Titans has been astounding. What reasonable person would have believed that entering this game Tannehill would be playing better quarterback than Deshaun Watson over the last month? Defending Derrick Henry's power running is a big problem, and that has made Tannehill devastating in the play action passing game. Good chance the Texans will need to score more than 28 points to win. They last did so eight games ago in their 31-24 victory at Kansas City. The Titans look like the better team right now, but week to week in the NFL who knows.

As I put it on the radio show earlier this week, in an either or scenario which would you prefer: the Texans do win their division, maybe win a wild card weekend home game, and if they do then take a shot at not getting crushed at Baltimore again. OR…the Texans lose twice to the Titans, lose in Tampa, tumbling from 8-4 to an 8-8 playoff miss and Cal McNair decides to fire Bill O'Brien?

Tough spell for Astros

Given that Oakland wasn't a possibility, Gerrit Cole picking the Yankees is the Astros' worst case scenario. If you're thinking nine years 324 million dollars is nuts, of course nine years is crazy long, but the Yankees are a money printing machine. Forbes magazine estimate for 2018 had the Yankees generating roughly 300 million dollars more in revenue than did the Astros.

Another bottom line: with Cole the Yankees are markedly better, without him the Astros are markedly worse.

The Astros are in a payroll bind, hence the trade Carlos Correa rumblings. In isolation, trading Correa would be dumb. Yes he has proven brittle. But Correa is also super-talented, 25 years old, and for two more years in Major League Baseball terms, dirt cheap. Trade Correa for what? A desperate play to escape the 13 million dollar anvil that is Josh Reddick's 2020 contract? Offered for nothing in return the Astros have no takers for Reddick. As a must take in a Correa deal, Reddick would drive down the return the Astros could get.

The Astros would be seeking a cheap, multi-years team-controlled stud young starting pitcher for Correa. They're not getting one for him. Guys like the Dodgers' Walker Buehler, the Cardinals' Jack Flaherty, the Braves Mike Siroka, the Indians Shane Bieber, those teams wouldn't swap their guy for Correa straight up. They'd laugh at an Astro offer of Correa and Reddick. Reds' starter Luis Castillo's name has been thrown against the wall. He's had one really good full big league season. At 27 years old, Castillo isn't eligible for arbitration until 2021. Why would the Reds trade him for Correa who can walk as a free agent after the 2021 season? Mets starter Noah Syndegaard? Probably not available, and he can become a free agent the same time as Correa.

It's always easy to burn someone else's money, but the Astros' best play is keeping Correa and swallowing the Reddick 13 mil if necessary, rather than taking 70 cents on the dollar back in a trade. Jim Crane and his partners can make back any loss in profit margin during this Astros' window of excellence by cutting costs when the next rebuilding time comes around and/or by selling the team down the line for several times the 610 million dollars they paid to buy it.

Buzzer Beaters

1. If you can get a ticket, UH-Oklahoma St. at Fertitta Center is the place to be Sunday afternoon. 2. The NBA has captivated very few around here so far this season, but the relentlessness of James Harden's scoring pace (37.6 points per game) is stupefying. 3. Absurd actual phobias: Bronze-Somniphobia, fear of sleep Silver-Cherophobia, fear of happiness Gold-Arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth


Photo via Kansas City Chiefs/Facebook

History repeats itself, unless it doesn't.

(And they say a University of Maryland education is worthless.)

So here's some history worth repeating: In February 1999, President Clinton, after being impeached by the House of Representatives, was acquitted by the Senate; Super Bowl 33 that year was played in Miami. In February 2020, President Trump, after being impeached by the House, likely will be acquitted by the Senate; Super Bowl 54 this year will be played in Miami.

In Super Bowl 33, the AFC champion Denver Broncos beat the NFC champion Atlanta Falcons, 34-19. In Super Bowl 54, it is almost fated that the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs will beat the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers by the EXACT SAME SCORE, 34-19.

Wow.

And now, as a public service, I am here to provide my 54th annual Super Bowl Viewing Guide (for Super Bowl Parties of Six or More):

This is the Chiefs' first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years. A lot is being made of this. You know who is tired of hearing it? Fans of the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars, the four NFL teams yet to play in a Super Bowl.

Here is a fun Patrick Mahomes factoid. In the 2014 MLB draft, he was selected in the 37th round by the Detroit Tigers. This means that the Tigers have drafted one more Super Bowl quarterback than the Lions have.

Here is a fun Patrick Mahomes observation. He is Stephen Curry in cleats.

I'm not a big nepotism fan – what did my dad ever do for me? – but it sure pays the bills. Mike Shanahan and Kyle Shanahan are the first father-son Super Bowl head-coaching duo; the elder Shanahan won back-to-back titles with the Denver Broncos and son Kyle is the 49ers' honcho. Meanwhile, Joe Buck is calling his sixth Super Bowl for Fox; his dad Jack Buck broadcast Super Bowl 4 on CBS with Pat Summerall.

Family ties are big in sports AND politics. John Adams was the second president (1797-1801) and son John Quincy Adams was the sixth (1825-29). It happened again with George H.W. Bush (1989-93) and George W. Bush (2001-2009). And Donald Trump and Donald Trump Jr. could very well become the first father-son presidential combo to be impeached.

Jimmy Garoppolo apparently completes more passes off the field than on the field. The 49ers quarterback reportedly has dated adult film star Kiara Mia, model Alexandra King and, recently, a VIP bottle-service gal from Sacramento. With the ladies, he makes Tom Brady look like Trent Dilfer.

Here is a controversial take I do not apologize for – on Super Bowl Sunday, dogs are okay and spouses are optional. Toni, a k a She Is The One (And Then Some), will attest to this: I have thrown her out of the house so I can watch in peace, but our beloved pit mix Daisy is allowed to sit by my side, licking herself through endless replay reviews ITAL and END ITAL critical third downs.

There are other, more sobering viewing options on Sunday. For those of you who miss the presence of the New England Patriots, I suggest the three-part Netflix docuseries, Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.

Your guests deserve wise choices on food and beverage. No to kale, no to quinoa, no to chard, no to coconut water, no to all Budweiser products. Yes to Yuengling, Dr. Brown's Black Cherry soda, San Pellegrino sparkling water, Fritos, olives, capocollo, pigs in a blanket and cacio e pepe.

Super Bowl prop bets are bigger than ever. They're usually bad bets. My favorite? William Hill sports book is offering 9,999-1 odds on the Chiefs scoring exactly four points. Four points? When's the last time an NFL team scored four points? Like, maybe, NEVER. So why waste a dollar? Plus, this should pay 999,999-1, not 9,999-1. Geez.

Only one prop bet is an (almost) sure winner. Heads or tails on the coin flip: It's tails. Trust me. No one has flipped more coins than Couch Slouch. I flip a coin every morning – heads I get dressed, tails I go back to sleep – and I'm in bed almost the entire week.

Ask The Slouch

Special Houston Astros Edition

Q. Will MLB be investigating whether the infamous Cleveland Indians drum-playing fan is actually relaying signs to Indians hitters, or does the team's lack of success make it a moot point? (Dan Cantwell; Albany, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will the Astros be able to hit major league pitching if they don't know what pitch is coming? (Michael Seltz; Alexandria, Va.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Will any win over the Astros in the future be described as a buzzer beater? (John Haluska; Guilderland, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. How might the Astros have fared if Mitch McConnell were commissioner instead of Rob Manfred? (Joe Salo; Latham, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

Q. Does MLB' s one-year suspension of A.J. Hinch prevent him from getting a job with the New England Patriots? (Bruce Ellisen; Washington, D.C.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!

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