NFL’S FINAL WEEK STILL HAS SOME QUESTION MARKS
The worst thing that can happen to an NFL fan in the state of Texas is to have the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys playing opponents at the same time on Sunday.
That was the case this weekend as both franchises were involved in very crucial games as far as the post-season playoffs were concerned. Both teams needed victories to make their treks along the playoff trail easier, but that’s not what happened.
They both were on the road playing teams that were not in their division. In fact, the Texans were playing the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that is chasing the Cowboys in the NFC East Division for a wild card while Dallas had an easier chore taming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A Texan victory would have meant another division championship and the probability of getting a first-round bye. But the Eagles’ last-second field goal spelled doom for Houston, who watched helplessly as Jake Elliott’s 35-yarder as time elapsed changed a 30-29 Texan lead into a 32-30 loss.
The AFC South Division again became clouded as to which team will be the champion and which one the wild card.
Fortunately, the Texans secured a playoff berth when the New Orleans Saints pulled out a 31-28 win over the desperate Pittsburgh Steelers. That may be lucky because Houston has surrendered 1,473 yards passing in the past three games, winning only one.
But Houston must wait until Sunday when they host the last-place Jacksonville Jaguars to find out just where in the playoff picture they will show up.
A win over Jacksonville Sunday gives the Texans the AFC South title and the right to host the wild card game next weekend.
However, a Houston loss would give the team a 10-6 record and ranked as the lowest-seeded wild card and would have to be on the road for that wild card game.
The same is true for Indianapolis and Tennessee, who play each other in Sunday’s finale with the winner nabbing the final AFC wild card. The winner will play Houston whether the Texans win or lose Sunday. Indy pulled out a 28-27 win over the New York Giants after trailing for most of the game.
The Colts have won eight of their last nine games and their last six games at home and would win the AFC South Division title with a victory over the Titans and a Texan loss.
The Dallas Cowboys secured their third division title in five years with a 27-20 victory at Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers aided their cause by fumbling twice with one going for a 69-yard Cowboys touchdown by linebacker Jaylon Smith.
There’s a good chance the Cowboys will host Seattle in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs in two weeks after the Seahawks upset Kansas City 38-31 Sunday night at Century Link Field and earned a wild card playoff berth.
Both Kansas City and the Los Angeles Chargers are assured of the playoffs. The Chiefs are at home against Oakland (4-11) while the Chargers must travel to Denver (6-9). If both teams win, the Chiefs will be declared the AFC West champions with a better division record.
Baltimore (9-6) has won five of its last six games and forged ahead of Pittsburgh (8-6-1) in the AFC North Division. If the Ravens can beat Cleveland Sunday, they will be the division champs.
But if Baltimore loses and Pittsburgh defeats Cincinnati, the Steelers will be the division winners. Pittsburgh is a 14½-point favorite over the Bengals.
As for the world champion Philadelphia Eagles, unlike last season they must depend on another team to help them even get into the playoffs as a wild card.
Baltimore, which is a 5½-point favorite over Cleveland, must get upset by the Browns to give the Eagles a slim chance of repeating what they did last season.
KWICKIES…Kansas lost to No. 18 Arizona and dropped out of the top spot in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 College Basketball poll and No. 2 Duke moved up to the top spot while the Jayhawks dropped to No. 5. Texas Tech moved up one place to No. 11 and undefeated University of Houston actually dropped a notch to No. 22 to round out the two Texas schools in the Top 25.
Undefeated Galena Park North Shore won the Class 6A Div. I state high school football championship on a successful 45-yard Hail Mary pass as time ran out to down also undefeated Duncanville 41-36 Saturday night. Quarterback Dematrius Davis floated a long pass that was snagged by wide receiver A.J. Carter with two defenders draped all over him.
The Houston Texans’ second-year quarterback Deshaun Watson has thrown a touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games which is a franchise record. Let’s hope he keeps that streak alive for the rest of the season.
Three Clemson players failed NCAA tests for performance-enhancing drugs and might not play in Saturday’s Cotton Bowl against Notre Dame. Star defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence along with reserve offensive tackle Zach Ziella and freshman tight end Braden Galloway had ostarine in their urine samples which is used to treat osteoporosis but also can act like an anabolic steroid. The NCAA ban for failing a PED test is one calendar year.
And not to be outdone, Alabama head coach Nick Saban suspended three players for violating unspecified team rules. Starting left guard Deonte Brown, tight end Kendrick James and offensive lineman Elliot Baker did not make the trip to Miami on Monday. Top-ranked Alabama takes on Oklahoma Saturday night in the College Football Playoff semifinal game.
The Seattle Seahawks did for Head Coach Pete Carroll what they refused to do for Orange’s Earl Thomas—extended his contract three more years. Carroll is in his ninth season as Seattle coach and clinched his seventh playoff berth Sunday with a victory over Kansas City. Earl is rehabbing successfully and could possibly see action for the Seahawks in the playoffs.
JUST BETWEEN US…I got a big bonus this Christmas by getting a visit from my only grandson Logan Smith, who is visiting his parents in Hudson for the holidays before having to return to West Point to complete his third year. But being a pitcher for Army, his pitching coach laid out a rigorous daily schedule that requires throwing almost every day. I am in no condition to catch 95-mph fastballs, so his mother, Karen, called Chad Dallas’ mom and they set up a long-throw workout at the West Orange-Stark baseball field. Chad also has a schedule from his pitching coach at Panola Junior College as they both benefited from the session. Chad usually works out with older brother Jack, who is a starting pitcher at Lamar and plans on just playing baseball for the Cardinals instead of playing both football and baseball.