Thank God 2016 has come to an end, right? But what does 2017 have in store for Houston sports fans? A look into the crystal ball reveals the following in store...
THE SUPER BOWL:
The Super Bowl will be played at NRG Stadium next month. No, the Texans won’t be playing in the game. Instead, look for a matchup between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys, which means Houston will be flooded with fans representing the two douchiest, front-running fanbases in the NFL. Here’s predicting the Patriots will blow out the Cowboys because the worst thing that could happen is a Cowboys win resulting in Dallas fans' celebrating in Houston.
ASTROS AND THE WORLD SERIES:
Hey, it’s 2017. And remember how Sports Illustrated put the Astros on the cover several years ago and declared that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series? Yeah, that’s not going to happen. The team brought in Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick during the offseason. The result is a vastly improved outfield, catching and DH situation. And the team is good enough to once again make the playoffs — seriously, the Astros have a really talented everyday lineup. But the starting rotation has yet to improve. The Astros' pennant dreams still come down to hoping that Dallas Keuchel is healthy and recovers his 2015 form. And there’s still hoping that Lance McCullers is healthy for an entire season and becomes the lockdown ace. But otherwise, it appears the plan is to just bang opposing clubs into submission with home runs. Unfortunately, as the Baltimore Orioles have proven, that’s not enough.
MAJOR, KEVIN, TOM AND DAVID
There were multiple high-profile coaching changes amongst the Texas colleges. Tom Herman has gone to Austin. Major Applewhite is running things in Houston. Somehow Kevin Sumlin again went 8-4, was again made to look bad in a bowl game, and again found some way to hang onto his job with the Aggies. And David Bailiff shocked the few remaining fans of the Rice Owls by keeping his job despite a 3-9 record. So what does 2017 bring?
The Cougars will go 8-4 as Major Applewhite replicates the Kevin Sumlin methodology of success: win a few big games early, then lose a few games to teams a supposedly major college shouldn’t lose to, then look unprepared and get out-coached while losing the bowl game. But those in charge at UH made it clear that continuity and a guy wanting to stay in Houston were more important than making and winning major bowl games, so expect this to become the modus operandi with the Cougars for a while.
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Texas will go 7-5 as Herman has trouble winning without a) Greg Ward Jr. as his quarterback, and b) playing a major conference schedule for a full season. Herman will also discover that rich UT alums are more demanding than those at UH. Kevin Sumlin will once again coach the Aggies to an 8-4 record and a bowl loss, but the Aggies will finally get tired of it and fire Sumlin. The Owls will go 4-8 and David Bailiff will keep his job because the Rice brass see it as an improvement over 3-9 — those Rice fans still remaining will shrug, yawn and start talking about college baseball.
THE ROCKETS AND THE PLAYOFFS
The Rockets currently have the third-best record in the NBA’s Western Conference. The Warriors and the Spurs, of course, are the only teams ahead of them in the standings. The offense is exciting and firing on all cylinders. The defense has been better than expected for a Mike D’Antoni team. James Harden is putting up MVP-type numbers. But what happens once the playoffs come along? The prediction here is another Golden State-Cleveland finals.
Of course, my crystal ball has been known to be wrong.