Colts 33, Texans 28: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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Photo by Marco Torres
Watt recovered a fumble by Andrew Luck and to it to the house...for his THIRD touchdown of the season.
Well, that was a pretty freaking painful four days, huh?

If you're trying to construct the most painful way to chase an overtime loss to your hated in-state rival, the Texans did a pretty good job of it on Thursday night, falling behind the Indianapolis Colts 24-0 in the first quarter, riding the greatness of J.J Watt to a furious comeback, before two fumbles in the final five minutes allowed the Colts to breathe a sigh of relief and leave town with a 33-28 win.

It's painful to quantify just how disastrous this loss is, especially considering that a) the Texans have never won in Indianapolis (meaning 0-2 against them is heavy chalk) and b) Indy seems to be hitting its stride. If you're a Texans fan who aspires to have postseason football on the schedule in January, then the route (as jagged and unlikely as it may be) now goes through the collection of teams in the AFC North plus the Buffalo Bills in going after the other wild card spot.

Assuming the Patriots win the AFC East and the AFC West has two playoff teams (major chalk bets right now), then Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Baltimore is the new "division."

So great news, Texans Fan! You're 1-0 in the division! Suck it, Buffalo!!

Okay, now on to winners and losers....

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets (Including Colts-Texans!)

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John Wardell
In betting, there are weekends where you're looking to score big, where even finishing at or slightly above .500 feels like a slight disappointment, like a running back who left yards on the field.

Then there are weekends like last weekend.

Saturday was utter chaos, like the last 45 minutes of a Transformers movie combined with the Rahad Jackson scene from the climax of Boogie Nights (and yes, I just emitted a juvenile snicker typing the words "climax of Boogie Nights," sue me). Underdogs not only covering left and right, but outright winning some of these games to where, by the end of the weekend, five of the top eight teams in the AP went down, and somehow on Sunday morning, TCU and Arizona were in the top ten.

It was like a drug-induced haze, and by the time Connor Holliday was done putting up 734 yards passing in a loss to Cal, we had blacked out long ago, then on Sunday we woke up with a Horned Frog and a Wildcat on our beds.

Truth be told, it would've been less weird waking up with an actual horned frog and wildcat in our beds than seeing what we saw on Saturday in college football. And I feel fortunate. Why?

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The Houston Texans "Behind the Chains": Lose Yards, Kill Drive

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Photo by Aaron M. Sprecher
If you read my entries in this blog, you know there are certain things that I find intriguing -- fan fights in stadium bathrooms, crime stories from the state of Florida, crime stories involving NFL players, the occasional recreational wager. These things all intrigue me.

But if you examine closely, those things all involve some sort of debauchery and, most times, some illegality. I don't want all of you to think that I'm some meathead crime troll. I can be analytical as well!

One thing that also concerns me greatly (aside from toothless rednecks on meth and whether or not Alabama can cover a ten point spread) is the welfare of our hometown football team. I like the Houston Texans, and while they're a respectable 3-2 right now, it's a rickety 3-2, built on the duct tape of positive turnover margin and the toothpaste of a weak early season schedule.

So what's my biggest concern right now?


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Fan Fighting League! Niner Fan on Niner Fan Bathroom Violence (w/ VIDEO)

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For decades, it's been largely agreed that the least safe place as a road team fan to go see a game is Oakland Coliseum. But is that actuality?

Yes, the sea of black and silver sets an intimidating backdrop, and the gaggle of societal misfits in their face paint and spiked shoulder pads is downright scary, and the Raider logo itself has ties to gangs going back to their days in Los Angeles. If this were a branding course, these things would all point to a brand built around violence and instilling fear.

But I can say, having been to both a Niners game and a Raiders game in the same evening last year, I was much more uneasy in Candlestick Park during daylight than I was Oakland at night.

The Niner crowd has a lot of bad dudes, as evidenced by their practically weekly appearances in my Fan Fighting League YouTube recaps. And honestly, you knew this one was just a matter of time....

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NFL Bye Week Crime Follies: Vikings and Dolphins Both Get Tased

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As many of you know, during the offseason months of the NFL calendar, I run a little thing in this space called the Fantasy Crime League.

It's basically a tongue-in-cheek (but unfortunately, frequently updated) tip of the hat to the amount of trouble that some NFL players get into with too much time on their hands. Every season, I run with it as an offseason meme, and every season, like clockwork, a few dozen jackasses fill the police blotter, some with trivial, blip-on-the-radar-type stuff (think the occasional bar fight or disorderly conduct), some, well, worse than that (Aaron Hernandez being the obvious extreme example).

The prevailing message is clear -- a small percentage of NFL players are really, really dumb, if not sociopathic.

Unfortunately, the .01 percent of bad apples have continued to spoil it for the bunch into the regular season, and the league is so inept at punishing them that it's become a huge story that has overshadowed actual football. So you would think that players would be extra-cautious during their bye weeks in season.

Alas, stupid is stupid year round, and idle hands are the devil's workshop. How else do you explain these two specimens over the weekend?

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Zapruder Analysis of the Craziest College Football Saturday Ever

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Katy Perry's GameDay appearance set us up for one hell of a Saturday..
ESPN's College GameDay, the gold standard for all sports studio shows and maybe all sports shows period, took its road show this week to Oxford, Mississippi for the most important game in the recent history of Ole Miss football.

The Ole Miss Rebels, sitting on the cusp of the AP top ten, at number eleven in the country, were taking on the third ranked and universally reviled Alabama Crimson Tide (and actually Bama was number one in the coaches poll, but most of the coaches are idiots so we recognize the AP poll as the measuring stick in this space) in a shot at catapulting themselves into the College Football Playoff conversation.

As ESPN does every week on GameDay, they have one celebrity join the crew to help make predictions on all of the games that day. Usually, that celebrity a) knows at least something about football and b) has some sort of affiliation with the school hosting the show that week.

But Ole Miss? Who do you go get for Ole Miss? Exactly. Other than one of the Mannings, we all have no idea who you go get.

So ESPN shattered the mold into a thousand pieces on Saturday. They went and got musical phenom Katy Perry, whose affiliation with Ole Miss is that she was in town to watch the game because her manager is an Ole Miss alum, and whose football knowledge is ostensibly zero.

It went like this....

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Cowboys 20, Texans 17: 4 Winners, 4 Losers

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Monica Fuentes
Well, it's been a while since we had a game like that to invest in here in Houston.

No, I'm not talking about a mere loss by our NFL team. We had 14 of those last season, and already had one a couple weeks ago against the Giants. I'm talking about a gut punch loss, where the emotional investment went beyond merely slipping on your J.J. Watt battle red jersey, drinking beer, and watching the game with a few friends.

Sunday, for reasons both geographical (suck it, Dallas) and empirical (where did you come from tied-with-us Indianapolis Colts?), that game mattered more than any game had around here in a long while, probably going back to the Seattle/San Francisco back-to-back season killers in 2014.

And after nearly 68 minutes of arduous and ultimately pulse-quickening football, and a 20-17 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, there are two things we can unequivocally say about the 2014 Houston Texans:

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College and Pro Football: This Weekend's Best Bets

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Joel Kramer
A 5-1 week of prognosticating is like an elite quarterback in the NFL. It can cover up a lot of future mistakes.

Two weeks ago, I put up a nice 5-1 week, and began feeling pretty good about myself, like maybe I was turning the corner and shaking a slump that had gone back to the end of the 2012 season. I actually finished last weekend, thanks to said 5-1 mark, with a 13-11 mark for the 2014 season thus far.

Nothing to go pitching my own handicapping show with, but an overall positive winning percentage, making money even after backing out the juice.

So naturally, I stifled my own momentum worse than Blaine Gabbert facing a six man blitz package, going 2-4 last weekend. Still, I sit at 15-15 overall on the season. Yes, thanks to the masking agent that was 5-1 the week before, 2-4 didn't totally snow me under on the year.

I'm still at .500. And now I need a pep talk this week, something edgier than Apollos Hester's "believe in yourself" smile factory from last week.

Instead, let's burn some boats!!!

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Three Years Later, Did the Texans Win or Lose the 2011 NFL Draft?

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Photo by Groovehouse
The Shiloh Keo Era ended earlier this week. I think most of us could see that coming, what with Keo only being healthy for like one day this entire 2014 preseason and regular season. (To be fair, it was a very productive day, as he had 11 tackles in the final preseason game to temporarily save his spot on the 53-man roster.)

When I think back to Shiloh Keo's time in Houston, I will remember two things:

1. He was a celebrity guest at a station event of ours earlier this year and played poker with listeners for hours. I have no idea how good or bad he was, but he seemed like a cool dude.

2. He was the star of J.J. Watt's first celebrity softball game two years ago, making a circus catch in center field to save the game then hitting a walk off home run in extra innings. Without a doubt, Shiloh Keo was a much more impactful slow pitch charity softball player than he was an NFL safety.

But Keo's release also got me thinking about the 2011 Texans draft class, and the fact that five of the eight draft picks from the 2011 class are no longer with the team. To refresh your memory, here is that class of Texans draft picks (bold are still with the Texans):

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Assessing This Week's Houston Texans "Bottom of the Roster Shuffle"

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Charles Kim
Whole lotta shufflin' going on
Since the time this team started up preseason in late July, the Houston Texans roster has been constantly in motion, with revolving doors built around almost every spot below the starters on the depth chart.

Throughout the preseason, training camp and the first few weeks of the regular season, the Texans had the first pick in the waiver selection order, and took frequent advantage of it, most notably coming away with immediate contributors like wide receiver Damaris Johnson and cornerback Darryl Morris. But contributing bodies can come from many places, such as a returning Danieal Manning (returning meaning "coming back from Cincinnati" and now returning meaning "returning kickoffs") and a wide load nose tackle in veteran Ryan Pickett.

General manager Rick Smith has often said that the Texans' roster is a "living, breathing thing," and in 2014 this organism is clearly not afraid of massive amounts of Botox, makeup and, perhaps by about Week 9 or 10, significant dosages of medication.

We shall see. For now, this week was your standard Texans 2014 week, with lots of tweaking, moving and shaking at the bottom of the roster.

Let's assess:

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