FRIDAY STOOTS 6 PACK

Watt and Luck, standout rookies headline Sunday's matchup

Andrew Luck will be a problem. Credit: Jonathan Ferrey

The Texans host the Colts on a loaded NFL Sunday. Here is the Stoots Six-Pack for this week with a bonus shot of college football for you.

1. The Colts have the best offensive line as far as protecting quarterbacks in the AFC. They are only one off the best mark in the league which is held by the Saints. Just 14 sacks allowed in 12 games but four in the last two games. They had a streak of five games in the middle of the season of no sacks allowed. The offensive line was healthy and the scheme, as J.J. Watt mentions, is perfect for keeping Luck safe.

"He gets the ball out of his hands quick," Watt said. "He knows where to go with it to get it out of there. He can also move around a bit. So, he's done a good job and they've done a good job with their scheme and protecting him and things like that."

Luck absolutely SHREDDED the Texans earlier in the year. Romeo Crennel has to adjust to what the Colts can do and really make them pay for the quick game they lean on. If he doesn't it could be a shootout on Sunday.

2. Lamar Miller and Alfred Blue, along with Deshaun Watson's legs, have the Texans with one of the best statistical rushing attacks in the game. Sometimes the stats are deceiving but this has actually been a great element in recent weeks. Miller has been on track to have the best season of his career. Blue has been more efficient than at any point in his career. Watson's legs are a weapon again after being a secondary thought in the middle of the season. Now, D'Onta Foreman is close to being ready.
I say close to being ready because I am just not sure where he is and what to expect. More often than not an Achilles injury for a running back leads to a regression in overall talent. Not to mention he has played very little football in the NFL. It just isn't a mix which leads me to believe he will be contributing this season. It's OK. The current crop has been more than enough for what the Texans are looking to do but Foreman should be active on gameday just in case.

3. The defensive rookie of the year is playing in this game and unfortunately for the Texans, it isn't Justin Reid. Don't get me wrong, Reid has been a monster. He's by far one of the best rookies but he isn't quite the best. Indianapolis linebacker Darius Leonard has a line on winning the award. Leonard leads the league in tackles. He's second in the league in forced fumbles. He has the second-most sacks by a rookie. I love what Reid has brought to the table but there are so many playmakers that help him. Leonard is the best player on the Colts defense already. Reid has been fantastic, Leonard, has been better. He will be an annoying mainstay in the AFC South for years. But, so will Reid for the Texans opponents.

4. Thanks for nothing Jacksonville. The Texans can't clinch the AFC South on Sunday. When a team has such big personalities like Jacksonville has, there was bound to be some quit opened up as their season went off the rails. We saw it on Thursday night. We also saw a totally inept offense. I have to imagine Doug Marrone is going to be fired. The offense is his side of the football and despite being saddled with Blake Bortles it has always looked suspect. If he is let go, there will be a long line of coaches hoping to maximize the talent there. They will just have to manage the personalities.

As far as the AFC South, I will let Jadeveon Clowney handle the Titans win on Thursday night: "We don't care about nothing that the Titans have going on. All we have to do is win this game and we'll clinch. We just need to win out. We don't have to worry about clinching anything."

5. The Cowboys have the longest win streak in the NFC after they pushed theirs to four at the expense of the Saints win streak of nine. They started this current run against the Eagles. The defending champs have struggled mightily but have wins against two straight division opponents. They head to Dallas looking to make it three in a row and take over first place in the division. It will be no easy task. The Cowboys defense is amazing and if their offense gives them anything they're a tough out. This should have been flexed to Sunday Night Football instead of the Rams and Bears. The winner of this game likely wins the NFC East and guarantees themselves a playoff spot.

6. Speaking of Sunday Night Football, let's see what kind of havoc Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald can cause on the big stage. Donald is running away with defensive player of the year while Mack has picked it up after a midseason dip in production. Mitchell Trubisky returns to the lineup for the Bears while Jared Goff is coming off a poor performance against the Lions. The Rams have already clinched their division but they have to hold off the Saints for the top spot in the NFC. This is a solid Sunday Night Football matchup and barring some creative flex scheduling, the best one left on the schedule.

Bonus Shot of College Football! Despite college football's regular season being over and the bowl games the last vestiges of the season remaining, this is actually a nice college football Saturday. I know what you're thinking, it is just Army-Navy, but, I assure you this game is worth it. I truly encourage every college football fan to attend this game. It will be cold and you have to get there early, but watching Army and Navy march into the stadium is amazing. The game is intense and you won't see more respect between two opponents than when Army and Navy line up for this one. The Midshipmen had won 14 straight before the Black Knights took the last two in thrilling fashion. After this throwback matchup, the Heisman Trophy is presented in what should be the tightest race since 2015 when Derrick Henry bested Christian McCaffrey.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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