UNDERDOGS FLOURISH IN WEEKEND WILD CARD ROUND

When the final whistle blew Sunday evening ending last weekend’s wild card round of the National Football League’s playoffs, it was discovered that the Dallas Cowboys were the only favored team to register a victory.

Las Vegas bettors who were smart enough to take the underdogs and the points in each of the four games have some extra cash in their pockets this week, Even the early line on the Dallas-Seattle game was 2½ points and the Cowboys won by only two points, 24-22, giving the Seahawks bettor a one-half point win.

It’s hard to figure whether the Vegas sports books were all wet or the teams that were supposed to lose just didn’t! I don’t think that same trend will be true in this week’s Divisional Round, but one never knows.

The first game of the playoffs between our Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts at NRG Stadium Saturday afternoon was the worst stinkeroo of the four.

The Texans were outclassed in every facet of the game, especially coaching, where first-year head coach for Indianapolis Frank Reich made Bill O’Brien look like a Pop Warner mentor.

Before the stunned full house at NRG knew what was happening, the Texans were behind 14-0. Things didn’t get any better by the intermission as Houston trailed 21-0, which was the largest deficit the Texans faced this season.

The adjustments made during halftime may have sparked the defense, which didn’t give up another point, but the offense remained pathetic until Keke Coutee snagged a six-yard pass from confused quarterback Deshaun Watson for the Texans’ only touchdown.

Houston was able to moved the ball against the second and third teamers for the Colts, but in the process ate up 6:13 with the 16-play drive, losing the wild card 21-7.

It was by far the worst performance by Watson, who often missed the targeted receivers by several feet. He attempted 49 passes and connected on 29, with most of them being safety-valve throws as he was scrambling for his life. His quarterback rating was a paltry 69.7 which was his third worst of the season.

Watson was sacked three times by Indianapolis, giving him a franchise and NFL record 65 sacks for the season.

The Houston Chronicle, which gives a report card after every Texans game, rated the overall performance with an F-minus, with the same grade given to O’Brien who didn’t appear to have the team prepared, after losing to the Colts a month earlier.

Houston has a whopping 14 players who will become unrestricted free agents in March, including starting linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Kareem Jackson and safety Tyrann (Honey Badger) Mathieu. The Texans should have a projected $68 million in salary cap space and are expected to offer Clowney a multi-year contract.

The only Texas team to still be alive in the playoffs, the Dallas Cowboys, beat the Seattle Seahawks by two points, 24-22. But the score wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicated. The Cowboys led 24-14 until Seattle scored with l:l8 left. The Seahawks’ on-side attempt failed and the Dallas fans celebrated the victory.

Third-year quarterback Dak Prescott led the game-winning drive with the Cowboys leading by three points when he took the snap on a third and 14 and made the first down at the two. The Pokes poked the ball over the goal and made a touchdown when most quarterbacks would have settled for a field goal and a six-point lead.

That was the 15th game-winning drive of his career, tying a mark set by Seattle’s Russell Wilson after his third season in the league.

Next up is the high-scoring Los Angeles Rams, who have rung up 527 points this season. And their defense is coordinated by Orange native Wade Phillips, who’s been involved in the game for over 50 years.

The two teams will decide who plays for the Conference Championship next weekend with the Rams being a seven-point favorite on Saturday. The game kicks off at 7:15 p.m. and will be televised on Fox.

KWICKIES…Xander Schauffele fired a 62 in the final round of last weekend’s Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua, Hawaii to beat Gary Woodland by a single stroke. Schauffele began the final round five shots off the lead and rallied to fire his round to match four golfers for the course record 62. It was his fourth PGA Tour victory and his second in as many starts this season.

The Houston Astros acquired three prospects from the New York Mets last weekend in a trade that involved slugging corner infielder J.D. Davis. The Astros shipped Davis and minor leaguer Cody Bohanek to the Mets for infielder Luis Santana, catcher Scott Manea and outfielder Ross Adolph.

This weekend’s NFL Playoff games should have a higher caliber of quarterbacks competing against each other. Tom Brady will be opposed by Philip Rivers in the New England-Los Angeles Chargers game at Foxborough, MA. while at New Orleans Philadelphia’s Nick Foles will be trying to outdo the Saints’ Drew Brees.

JUST BETWEEN US…The Houston Cougars’ basketball team just keeps rolling along, whipping up on Memphis 90-77 Sunday night before a sellout crowd of 7,039 at Fertitta Center for their 15th straight victory of the season. The Coogs remained one of three unbeaten teams—along with Virginia and Michigan—in Division I while extending the nation’s longest home winning streak to 28 games.