Every-Thing Sports

Why the Texans will/won't make a run in the playoffs

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The playoffs are upon us. Every season around this time, I feel like one of the Stark kids in Game of Thrones when they talk about how Ned always said "Winter is coming." Well, it's here and it looks like it'll be a doozy. The NFC is deeper than the Grand Canyon when it comes to Super Bowl contenders. Meanwhile, the AFC resembles a shaky spades hand: one for sure book (the Ravens) and a bunch of possibles (everyone else).

The Texans are one of those possibles. They're one of those teams that can make the playoffs, have some exciting pieces, and always keep themselves close enough to have a shot. What they do with that shot is another story. Historically, they haven't done much. Lots of Wildcard or Divisional round losses, some of which are flaming disasters. This year's team is no different. Or are they?

Why they will

-The success of any good to great football team starts and ends with the quarterback. Whether he's a playmaking savant, or an incubating game-manager, it doesn't matter. The guy controlling the ball on every snap is where it begins and ends with a team's chances for success. If Deshaun Watson can eliminate stupid mistakes, use his athleticism and playmaking ability to take over games, the Texans will be hard to beat. He has limited weapons due to injury and lack of depth, but the truly great ones find a way regardless.

-Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson were very late additions to the running back depth chart and have proven to be valuable in different ways. Hyde has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing, while Johnson has proven to be a change of pace and pass-catching option out the backfield. If both guys can continue to produce and step their game up, this offense is hard to defend and can put up points with just about anyone.

-Defense wins championships. That phrase has been around for years. It held more meaning 20 or so years ago, but still rings true to this day (see least year's Super Bowl). This defense isn't frightening, but it can be. They've proven to be better against the run than the pass. If they can force teams to be one dimensional, it'll give them a better shot at winning. Easier said than done. I get that. But with guys like D.J. Reader and Angelo Blackson clogging things up in the interior, it'll make the run easier to defend and the pass more predictable.

Why they won't

-Bill O'Brien is either this team's biggest catalyst, or it's heaviest albatross. More often than not, he's been an albatross. Clock management, play calling, and general jackassery have hampered this team's chances at winning far too often. This was magnified this past offseason when he became the Grand Poobah of Houston pro football. Not knowing when to call timeouts or challenges, calling predictable plays or calling the wrong ones at the wrong time, and horribly botching personnel decisions have all led this team to purgatory. They're too good to give up on in hopes of tanking for higher draft picks, but they're talented enough to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot every year. It's all on O'Brien's head at this point, and it doesn't look very promising.

-The pass rush and coverage have been terrible. I know J.J. Watt has been injured. I get it that they've added bodies throughout the year. I'm also well aware that the guys they've added have been castoffs from other teams. However, Romeo Crennel is a veteran defensive coordinator who knows how to win and has won in this league. Why is it that he can't seem to scheme something up to cover up for the defense's deficiencies? The lack of talent and the scheme shortcomings are going to cost this team come playoff time.

-The same thing that makes Watson great, are some of the same things that get him, and this team, in trouble. He often extends plays by escaping sacks. He also makes poor decisions when doing do that cos this team. The interception Titans' safety Kenny Vaccacro on Watson's attempt to find Johnson in the end zone was a prime example. He didn't/couldn't recognize the coverage (cover 2 disguised with a single high saftey that looks like man or cover three), scrambled out of the pocket to evade the rush, and made a late throw across the field. Knowing when and how to get rid of the football and protecting your team's possessions are all apart of being great. If Watson truly wants to be one of the best, he will eliminate these brain farts.

Conclusion

I firmly believe this team will: either barely get by their Wildcard opponent (looking like the Bills) and lose in the Divisional round, or they'll bomb at home and lose in the Wildcard round like they have in previous years. Either way, I don't see them going to the AFC championship game. There are too many factors against them. Chief among them is the simple fact that there are better and more complete teams in the AFC with homefield. This is a team that'll need things to break too perfectly for them in order for them to beat the likes of the Ravens, Patriots, or Chiefs on the road in the playoffs. Stranger things have happened. I'm not hating. Just calling it like I see it, or better yet, like we've all seen it over the course of this team's history.

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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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