2014 Thanksgiving Day Football Gorging Guide

Flickr/Toby Jagmohan
This is going to sound a little strange, but there's a small part of me that was always jealous of the old bedridden grandparents in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

I mean, sure, they were all pushing 80 and sharing a full size double bed with three other octogenarians. And yes, their entire diet appeared to consist of some sort of rancid cabbage water. And I would imagine if they were unable to get up period, then that means they were unable to get up to go to the bathroom, so yeah...rancid.

(Also, why was everyone cool with Grandpa Joe buying tobacco when the family clearly had no money? I mean, they're all drinking cabbage piss and he's noshing on some Red Man and smoking a pipe. What a dick, right? Anyway...)

Still, there's something to be said for being allowed to just lay horizontal all day and watch television with no fear of reprisal. And for one day a year, America gets to do this exact thing with unbridled sloth and joy (and WAY more food).

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College Football Playoff Rankings v 5.0: Cut, Paste, Repeat

We are on the cusp of a massive weekend of college football, a weekend where traditional rivalries shape the months of December and January, and they do so with the added bonus of massive amounts of food consumed over a 72 hour period.

It truly is glorious.

One price that we pay, though, for Rivalry/Thanksgiving Weekend football is the snoozefest the week before, where relevant teams are playing tune up games, including half the SEC staging a de facto jamboree with FCS schools. The only good things about the Snoozefest Appetizer Weekend are:

1. I can actually attend a wedding on a Saturday night and not feel any "I'm missing football!" animosity toward the bride and groom. (NOTE: I had a wedding to go to Saturday, and had a fine evening. Thank you, Jessica and Gabriel!)

2. I can basically cut and paste the top half of the rankings from last week, so...time saver!!

Here are the fifth iteration of the College Football Playoff rankings, along with thoughts.

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Ryan Mallett Out For The Season With Torn Pectoral Muscle

Categories: Game Time, Sports

Photo by Groovehouse
Last Friday, talk around Houston in football circles was happy. It was optimistic. It was about opportunity.

At 5-5, you beat the Bengals at NRG Stadium on Sunday (something the Texans had gotten good at during the Andy Dalton Era, going 2-0 in two home playoff games) and now you're looking at back-to-back games against the Titans and the Jaguars, a gateway to 8-5.

That was the narrative. 8-5 would put the Texans firmly in the playoff hunt, and theoretically do so with a quarterback with a big league arm who would be 4-0 as a starter at that point, confident and poised. The world would be Ryan Mallett's NFL oyster.

(This is where the "vinyl record scratching" sound would be made on television, jarring us back into reality.)

Unfortunately, none of that is happening. This afternoon, the Texans learned that Ryan Mallett's torn pectoral muscle, which was reported last night after the game, an injury he played the entire Cincinnati game with, will end his 2014 season. He will have surgery and be placed on injured reserve.

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Bengals 22, Texans 13: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

Photo by Groovehouse
At this stage of the season, there are two different flavors of .500 (or around .500) football teams in the NFL.

There are the kind who have played hard schedules, have good quarterbacks, and have enough solutions on the roster to eventually win the 9, 10, or 11 games they need in order to make the postseason. Think San Francisco, Seattle, maybe New Orleans.

Then there are the kind who are still shuffling quarterbacks, getting contributions from a disproportionally small segment of the roster, and are basically a play here or a play there away from all of it falling apart. These types of .500 teams are generally held together with chicken wire, toothpaste, and J.J. Watt.

Yes, the Texans are the latter type. They proved that yesterday against the Bengals and showed the city of Houston just how fleeting relevance can be when your roster lacks any depth.

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Houston Texans: Your Definitive Week 12 Rooting Guide

As a society, we've never been more advanced in the functionality we have at our fingertips. Unfortunately, that functionality (which is 98 percent a result of having an app for nearly EVERYTHING on our phones) has made us a little lazy.

As one example, Jimmy John's latest ad campaign touts how quickly they can deliver us a sandwich by pressing a button on our phones, for God's sakes! I do not want to leave this chair for my processed meats and gobs of mayonnaise...BRING IT TO ME!! Hell, even Starbuck's is catering to the craze, promising us that soon they will be able to deliver their overpriced swill right to your office (to those of you who think calling a small "Venti" somehow makes you sophisticated).

We've gone from a microwave society, where we wanted to be able to procure everything in life ourselves just way faster, to a "serve me" society, where we want everyone else to do the work for us and, oh by the way, "bring it to me"! This chair is too comfortable to leave!

Honestly, you people disgust me. (I was looking in the mirror when I typed that, to be clear.) And yet, I want to help you. That means YOU, Texan fans!

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Parker Anderson via Flickr
Normally, this is the portion of the Best Bets post where I complain (or, even on a rare occasion, brag) about how I did the week before.

But this week, no complaining and no bragging, and that's for two reasons.

First, I went 3-3 for a second week in a row, so I'm settling into that meaty part of the curve where there's nothing really compelling about how I'm picking games right now. I'm just kind of muddling along at .500 and hoping for the best. (Appropriate that I live in Houston, I suppose!)

Second, this gives me a chance to embed the video of Marcus Luttrell's pep talk to Alabama in this space. Luttrell, of course, is the Navy SEAL who was the subject of the movie Lone Survivor.

Guaranteed, you will feel like a total zero for ever complaining about anything after watching this video....

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College Football Playoff Rankings v 4.0: Welcome to the Party, Bama

And then there were seven. Okay, maybe eight. Nine? All right, I'll draw the line at ten. Ten teams that still have mathematical hope of getting into the four-team playoff.

Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Mississippi State, TCU, Ohio State, Baylor, Ole Miss, UCLA and Georgia.

Ten teams, which is way more teams than would be in the mix in a two-team BCS Title Game Era season, and nothing feels cheapened or minimized. My team (Notre Dame) is out of it now officially (Brian Kelly, with Lindsay Lohan-level decision-making in an overtime loss to Northwestern on Saturday, took care of that), and yet I'm as excited for multiple games this Saturday as I've ever been.

The new playoff system has done the exact opposite of what the charlatans behind the BCS and the bowl system said it would -- it's made college football even more compelling, with a ton of games directly involving potential playoff teams, as well as games involving teams (Minnesota-Nebraska, Arizona State-Utah) that have strength of schedule implications for contenders.

In the meantime, we continue to gain awareness of the prism through which the committee views these teams and their performances. Let's look at the latest College Football Playoff rankings, released Tuesday night:

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Adrian Peterson Suspended Through the Rest of the 2014 Season

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Mike Morbeck via Flickr
The Adrian Peterson child abuse saga was adjudicated in a court of law two weeks ago, with Peterson pleading no contest to a misdemeanor of reckless conduct. For the last two weeks, we've waited (and waited) for it to be adjudicated in the court of Roger Goodell, which is a far more capricious, arbitrary, and random court.

Since Peterson's placement on the Commissioner's Exempt List after Week 1 of the NFL season, we kind of knew that eventually the legal case would reach a resolution that would keep Adrian Peterson out of jail (and it did), but how would the league handle Peterson's transgressions, especially in light of one of the most horrific spate of domestic assault incidents involving players in league history?

In this very space, we surmised two weeks ago:

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Texans-Browns: Individual Player Ratings, Offensive Line Dominates

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Photo by Marco Torres
J.J. Watt scores a 4.9 defensively and we're like "Oh, ok, whatever..."
While I wouldn't call myself a true sports "analytic," I do dork out over statistics. Always have. Back in the day, for true stat geeks, numbers were like nudity. There was no internet, so you had to work to find statistical information, and the team-by-team numbers in the weekly issues of The Sporting News were like a numbers dork's version of Playboy.

Now, of course, that's all changed. The same way a bare bosom or six person orgy is mere keystrokes away in a search engine, so, too, can you get virtually any advanced analytical number in a matter of seconds.

Among my favorite "statistical porn" websites this time of year is Pro Football Focus, as you were probably able to ascertain in my "Who's Better, Who's Worse" post from last week.

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Rockets Fans, Meet Your New Best Friend: Root Sports Southwest

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Tonight I will leave work after my show is over, I will settle in, fix myself a plate of whatever tasty treats my girlfriend Amy has prepared for dinner, sit down on the couch and do something that I've been unable to do since the end of the 2011-2012 NBA season:

I will watch a local Houston Rockets broadcast from the comfort of my own home!

It almost sounds weird to say it, it's been so long since I've been able to do this, and I feel like Red in Shawshank Redemption. I mean... Bill, Clyde, and Bull, complemented by the dulcet tones of Kevin Eschenfelder and Calvin Murphy on the pre and post game shows.... I mean.... This is the excitement only a free man can feel!

And damn if it isn't a great game on tap tonight as well, a battle between the teams with the two best records in the league, the Rockets and the Memphis Grizzlies!

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