The Texans have a big game in Jacksonville on Sunday. This is the first time they have gone on the road to face a team that is well below them in skill level. In reality, it is pretty much a must win looking at the rest of the schedule. (As an aside, I will be at the game, so I will not have a write up done until I get home Sunday night or Monday morning. Apologies in advance).
Here is a preview. I believe the Texans offense will need to have its best game, and coming out of the bye, I think they will. The defense also needs to force some turnovers, and Blake Bortles should oblige. If not? Expect a major meltdown on Monday.
Happy Veterans Day: Thank you to everyone who served and sacrificed. We appreciate you.
In case you missed it: Some great stuff on the site the past few days. Disco Biscuit gave us another hilarious train story; Lamont Mann wrapped up the election; A.J. Hoffman gives us his fantasy rankings.
Brown means sh–: Yeah, the Browns suck on all levels. They showed it again Thursday night.
Gambling plays: Still no changes from yesterday. Looking at Charlotte -10.5 over Rice, Marshall plus 9.5 hosting Middle Tennessee, Vanderbilt plus 3.5 at Missouri and Penn State -7 at Indiana. A reader asked about the over in that game. Don’t mind it. Both offenses are playing well. Full guide coming later today if I make to Florida in one piece. And don’t get eaten by a Gator. Or have my face chewed off by a druggie. Or in general encounter anyone or anything that has made Gem of the Day.
Puck yeah: Skip down if you don’t like hockey. This season so far has been a lot of fun. The influx of young, skilled players throughout the league has made the game much more interesting, especially the rookies.
This particular group of first one/two/three year players might be as talented as we have seen in a some time. Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews are the biggest names, but also young defensemen like Zack Werenski and Shayne Gostisbehere have changed the back-end dynamic as well. Because I have been watching the World Juniors every year, I get a chance to see some of these kids before they make the NHL, and over the last three years I have seen an incredible amount of talent. The young Maple Leafs — Mathews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander — are going to be terrific players for a long time. Patrick Laine is already an absolute beast for Winnipeg. And that doesn’t include guys who debuted last year, like McDavid, Dylan Larkin and Max Domi. I also like the longterm potential of Matthew Tkachuk.
The really encouraging thing is how many talented young Americans are on that list. (Eichel, Matthews, Werenski, Gostisbehere, Larkin, Tkachuk). It really bodes well for the 2018 Olympics, assuming the NHL plays there. For the first time in a long while, the U.S. team should have legitimate No. 1 centers on every line. That was not the case when they bombed in the World Cup of Hockey a couple months ago. USA Today projected the team earlier this year, and it is close, but there are some glaring omissions:
For some reason, Alex Galchenyuk was left off this list. He was also left off the under-23 Team North America in the World Cup. Why? Do people not really know he is American, played in the World Juniors for the U.S. and was born in Milwaukee? His parents are Belarusian and he spent some time in Europe growing up, but he is Team USA all the way. And he can flat out play.
He scored 20 goals two years ago, 30 last year and is on a point per game pace for Montreal this season. And he is 22 years old. He is a legit No. 1 young center and should be on the team. If the U.S. had top four centers of Matthews, Eichel, Galchenyuk and Ryan Kessler, they would be better than any country up the middle not named Canada and would actually finally have the skill to compete with the North. That assumes Mathews and Eichel develop, of course. But there is no reason they should not. I also think Werenski will be a lock to make this team. He is already playing like a No. 1 defenseman. By then a player like Tkachuk could be ready too. I also believe they are silly for leaving goalie Corey Schneider off this list. Other notable omissions: Blake Wheeler, J.T. Miller and Kyle Okposo. If your four lines were something like this: 1) Kane-Matthews-Gaudreau 2) Pavelski-Eichel-Larkin 3) Kessel-Galchenyuk-Pacioretty 4) Miller-Kessler-Wheeler….and your defense pairings were Sutter/Werenski, McDonaugh/Jones, Ghost/Trouba or Hanifan or some combination of any of those…That’s a ton of young talent and skill meshed with rugged veterans. And the Quick/Schneider pairing in goal is as good as any. Obviously these would not be exact lines or pairings and there would be some shuffling, but you get the idea what kind of talent could be rolled out. Obviously the young players mentioned above have to stay on their upward trajectory, but there is no reason that won’t happen.
Thanks for indulging my hockey addiction.
Of course, a Florida story in honor of my trip: Naked and covered in vomit. Perfect.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“A prosthetic leg with a Willie Nelson bumper sticker washed ashore on the beach, which meant it was Florida. Then it got weird.
— Tim Dorsey, Pineapple Grenade