Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monday Night Football: Stranger things have happpened.

While last night's result wasn't New Mexico beating Boise State in terms of the magnitude of the upset, for that matter it wasn't even Holm/Rousey, it was a meaningful win for the Texans because they have now, finally, beaten a team with a winning record and one that is probably heading for the playoffs.

And it was unexpected by most. (including me)

Unfortunately, for the Texans, most of the media oxygen is going to be sucked up by a Red Rider BB Gun and Dalton's ridiculous response to the comments (hint: laugh it off sir) rather than the fact that the Texans defense played really, really well, was aided by some curious ball handling errors by the Bengals, and TJ Yates seemingly has Cincinnati's number.

Still, it's a win.  And wins in the NFL are hard to come by, especially in an ugly game like the one Monday. Neither offense looked good and it's hard to tell if it was due to good defense or just more bad football being played in NFL prime-time games. I'm OK with the NFL moving games away from Sunday, but it would be nice if the quality of play was up to snuff.

Going forward the Texans find themselves in the 3rd quarter of a season that could be key to any hopes they have for the post season.

In the 1st quarter, they stumbled out of the gate to a 1-3 start. They took advantage of a soft 2Q schedule to go 2-2 before hitting the bye (luckily) right at the halfway mark.  Now they start the 3rd quarter 1-0 with some winnable games coming up.  All three teams, the Jets, the Saints, and the Bills can be beaten but it's possible the Texans go 0-3 as well. Especially if the offense continues to sputter, the run game is non-existent and the defense is inconsistent.

If the Texans are going to make any noise, they have to make it now, because the 4th quarter of the season has them playing the Patriots at home (loss) before going on the road for three straight weeks to face the Colts (probable loss, given history) an improving Titans team, and then the Jaguars who are getting better every week. 

Right now the team is 4-5, winning the next three would get them to 7-5, which means that going 2-2 in the 4th quarter of the season means a 9-7 final record.  That COULD be enough for the division, given that the Colts will be without Andrew Luck for a few weeks.

While that all seems rosy my thought is still that they are going to be closer to 8-8, 7-9. I think they go 1-2 over the next three games before finishing 2-2 or 3-1 depending on what happens with the Colts.  Amazingly, that MIGHT be enough to win the sorry AFC South.

Some random thoughts:

1. Benardrick McKinney - McKinney is easily the best LB on the team right now, and the only one who is flashing some speed.  Cushing is the signal caller and, behind Watt, the defensive leader, but he has slowed considerably, due in large part to unfortunate knee problems, and McKinney is clearly much faster than Cushing right now.

2. Whitney Mercilus - Jadeveon who?  Mercilus, in a contract year, is playing lights out. I suspect this is because he wants to get paid, which means I'd think twice about signing him in the off-season. For the Texans right now this is working out well.

3. Running game - In short, there is none. At the end of the first half the Texans leading rusher was Brian Hoyer with 15 yards. Overall the team ended with a paltry 82 yards rushing and Jonathan Grimes was the leading rusher with 33 yards. To be fair, the Bengals were worse, tallying only 73 yards rushing for the game.

4. Defensive speed - The Texans defense is still painfully slow at the LB and S position, McKinney notwithstanding. I was surprised that the Bengals continued to try and feed the ball to Hill, instead of Bernard who was having a much easier time running around the Texans slow LB corps. This is a need that must be addressed in future drafts/free agency

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