THE PALLILOG

Texans' latest move shows us exactly what they have planned for this season

The Texans traded their best corner to the Saints this week. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2021 Houston Texans Football: Here Goes Nothing! Not their chosen marketing slogan as the Texans enter their 20th season, but it could have been. Nothing in terms of expectations. Nothing in terms of anything to be excited about. Unless maybe their new animatronic bull head gets your juices flowing? It's no fun as a fan grinding through a season where losing benefits future seasons than winning week to week does good in the current season, but that's the Texans' reality. Being a spunky squad that overachieves to finish 7-10 or something would only damage their draft slotting next spring when the Texans finally again have their full complement of top picks. Bumbling to 3-14 and having the first pick or darn close to it is best.

Trading off the best of their underwhelming cornerbacks is further proof that the Texans want to lose quite regularly this season. They should be up (down?) to the challenge! In agreeing to pay the bulk of his salary in dealing Bradley Roby to the Saints, the Texans essentially bought a third round draft pick for seven million dollars.

As the Texans open their season Sunday at NRG Stadium vs. the Jaguars, healthy, under contract, obvious best player on the team Deshaun Watson begins collecting approximately 600 thousand dollars per week to not play. Theatre of the absurd.

As sign of the times, the Jaguars are three point road favorites Sunday coming off a 2020 season in which they won opening day then lost their remaining 15 games.

Astros' magic number

For the eleventh time this season, the Astros start a series having just missed an opportunity to sweep a three or four game series by losing the finale. That's an oddly high number, but means the Astros won those eleven series in addition to the ones they have swept this season. At 81-58 they're on pace to win 94 games and closing in on their fourth American League West title in five years. Their magic number to clinch over both Seattle and Oakland is 18. So barring a major collapse, the Astros' real race now is holding off the White Sox for home field advantage in their highly likely best of five AL Division Series matchup. The Astros enter the weekend a game and a half up on the ChiSox and hold the tiebreaker. Of course the Astros can win without home field (see 2017 World Series), just as they can lose with home field (see 2019 World Series). You definitely want home field if you can get it. The White Sox are 46-24 in their ballpark this year, 34-36 everywhere else. At minimum, last licks is an advantage always preferable.

Astros and Angels this weekend at Minute Maid Park. While the Astros pursue another World Series run, the Angels as usual are playing out the string. Friday night it's Shohei Ohtani pitching (and hitting) for the Angels as he continues an unprecedented season. As Babe Ruth transitioned from a great pitcher to the most awesome offensive force in Major League history, he never spent a full season as both an everyday player and pitcher in the starting rotation. Ohtani is doing it and at exceptional levels on both fronts. His bat has faded since the All Star game, though he still leads the big leagues with 43 home runs, but his pitching has improved. Since the break in seven starts Ohtani is 5-0 with a 2.20 earned run average. The Angels are mediocre, but Ohtani is the best player in baseball this year and deserves the AL Most Valuable Player award.

NCAA

For most of the 20th century they were Southwest Conference rivals. In the not too distant future they will become Southeastern Conference rivals. Saturday, Texas and Arkansas play a mere non-conference game in Fayetteville. The Longhorns enter off of new Head Coach Steve Sarkisian's solid winning debut over Louisiana, the Razorbacks off of being tied starting the fourth quarter with Rice before scoring three touchdowns and winning 38-17. Almost seems too obvious that the Horns should hook the Hogs.

After the Houston Cougars' second half collapse against Texas Tech, Dana Holgorsen's record at UH sits at seven wins 14 losses. The Coogs make the shorter than five mile trip to Rice Stadium Saturday. The Owls might be frisky this season but a UH loss would be a state of the program embarrassment.

Buzzer Beaters

1. More fun: Having the Yankees continue falling apart and they miss the playoffs completely, or have them advance to the ALCS and lose again (whether to the Astros or White Sox)?

2. Tennis is a niche sport, but the U.S. Open has been sensational this year. If Novak Djokovic wins two more matches to take the men's title and win the Grand Slam it's the individual sporting achievement of the year. On the women's side, British 18-year-old Emma Raducanu had to win three qualifying matches to even make the main draw. She's ranked 150th in the world with career earnings of about $300,000. Saturday she plays for the title against 73rd ranked Canadian Leylah Fernandez who turned 19 Tuesday with career earnings of about 800K. The loser Saturday cashes a check for 1.25 million. The winner, 2.5 mil.

3. Texans' final record prediction if these are the only options: Bronze 0-17 Silver 6-11 Gold 3-14

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After Texans DE Charles Omenihu voiced his support for Deshaun Watson this week, ESPN Houston's John Granato and Josh Jordan discuss how the Texans handling of the Watson saga will have big implications on their organizational reputation. Plus, how Omenihu and Watson sharing the same agent could make this tricky moving forward.

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