There's only one move from here. Win. Photo by Getty Images
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:
- Reddit's r/XFL appreciated my low effort Roughnecks merch.
- 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:
- They cheated.
- 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...
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:
This good boy is a service dog for his blind little buddy.
Dogs, bruh...💪🐶😍😇❤️💪 pic.twitter.com/UBxkIsTCF5
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) February 8, 2020
#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!
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.