4th and a mile with Paul Muth

The Astros are MLB's Patriots, and World Power Rankings

There's only one move from here. Win. Photo by Getty Images

Weekend takeaways

Well, like I said last week, this past weekend certainly didn't disappoint. The Houston Roughnecks kicked off the season with a huge win, and UFC 247 put on one heck of a show. I learned two things Saturday night:

  1. Reddit's r/XFL appreciated my low effort Roughnecks merch.
  2. Derrick Lewis could not care less about meeting fans after a fight.

That poor guy was inundated with rabid UFC fight bros just dying to get a picture with the heavyweight Houston native once he had arrived to his official after party at Little Woodrow's EaDo. The cringe moment of the night was every fight bro who asked him to do the weigh-in fight pose. There's probably at least one fight bro on your friends list who's already changed his profile picture to that.

Taking a page from Foxborough's playbook

The Astros have more in common with the New England Patriots right now than they'd probably like to. They've both found sustained success (obviously New England has done it longer, don't @ me Patriots fans), but they've also been a source of controversy. Both went to their respective championships, and later it was discovered that both used cameras to steal signs from the defense the same year. The Astros did it in 2017, and coincidentally, the Patriots exactly a decade prior.

The Astros cheated, and the Patriots cheated. There's no denying it.

But here's the thing: you probably thought to yourself "oh yea!" when I brought up the Patriots thing, even though it's almost exactly what the Astros did. The reason you forgot, is because the Patriots kept winning after the fact.

The Astros did two things specifically that have the sporting world outside of Houston demanding blood:

  1. They cheated.
  2. They beat two of the largest markets in the sport in the process

There's a pretty good argument to be made that there would probably be a lot less chirping if the Kansas City Royals and Arizona Diamondbacks had been defeated rather than the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, but here we are. One thing the Patriots at least had going for them was that they were caught spying on a New York Jets team that went 4-12 that season.

Everyone forgets the timeline because we're just now finding out about it, and as a result they think that the 2018 and 2019 seasons were tainted too. The 2019 season was legitimate, and all the more heartbreaking as a result, but it proves something that the dog day Astros fan already knows:

This team is still really, really good.

Vegas doesn't care how much anyone likes a team. They care how good they are, and right now the Astros have the third best odds to make it back to the World Series according to OddsShark.com.

It's painful to be an Astros fan right now. Practically every preseason marketing visual has been scrubbed clean of any Houston representation despite finishing the season in a World Series game 7. It's easy to guess why. But between that and every social media platform spewing venom in the comments section at anything even remotely associated with the Astros, it's understandable why fans would look for ways to just make it go away.

There is a way. The Patriots showed us all, and it's pretty simple.

They won. The Patriots, much like the Astros (at least at the moment) were hardly apologetic. They shrugged it off, continued winning, and eventually the spotlight moved away.

So for everyone's sake Astros...

Go win.

The ultimate world power rankings of the week



#5: Another dog being an awesome bro.

It's really easy to get on my list. Just be a dog doing something awesome like this:

#4: Ohio Medical board harshes fans' vibes

I love the fact that a panel of brilliant doctors had to be convened for this, but once they were they voted in opposition of the petitions that called them there in the first place. According to ESPN.com, It was determined Wednesday that "[b]eing a fan of the NFL's franchises in Cincinnati and Cleveland does not meet the condition requirements to purchase medical marijuana."

They must not be big sports fans, because there's at least some room for debate there if we're being honest.

#3 Football bro invents rule that the other football has been doing for years

I've seen a lot of memes floating around XFL and NFL pages that, well, aren't really memes. It's just the two league's logos and what they think is a hair-brained idea:

This isn't new. This is called relegation, and outside of the play-in game, they've been doing this in soccer for years. Look it up.

#2: Brown Jewelry

No other weird valentine's day gift will dominate your sports commercials more than Kay Jewelers trying to offload those weird brown--excuse me--"Chocolate" diamonds. I still haven't met anyone that has ever actually asked for them, but the TV said it's a thing. Enjoy your final week in the spotlight, weird brown diamond, we'll see you back on TV the day after Thanksgiving.

#1 Valentine's newest trend, pandering to the jaded

This seems like a new thing over the past few years, but if it isn't it's at least gained popularity. Capitalism has found a way to make even more money off of their fake holiday by catering to those who won't be celebrating it. So if you're a vulnerable, newly single person looking for an unhealthy attempt at catharsis, the San Antonio Zoo has just what you're craving. That's right, for $5 you can name a cockroach after your ex. And for those of you truly unable to cope you can drop $25 and they will happily name a pre-frozen rodent after them, to be fed to a reptile later on. Don't worry, for proof they'll send you a certificate that "can be shared on your own social media pages." They'll be live-streaming everything too, so don't worry about missing out!

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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