Every year at about this time, I wind up investing several hundred dollars in various pieces of Texans gear for my two sons (ages 13 and 12, and I'm fairly certain the only two Texan fans in their Chicago-area junior high school), and while the attitude in this, the most festive and giving time of year, should be "Hey, it's Christmas, and hey, they're our team," I'm not gonna lie -- stitched jerseys, replica jerseys, sweatshirts, the shit adds up.
For the longest time, I've thought (admittedly somewhat narcissistically), "It would be nice if the Texans could somehow find a way to help me pay for this stuff."
Well, in perhaps the Texans' greatest Christmas miracle, they've managed to do just that! And if you think this is yet another way for me to tell you gambling is fun, well.....
Since losing to the Ravens in Week 6, the Texans are on a franchise record seven-game winning streak that has catapulted them to an AFC South division title and, as of today, the number one overall seed in the AFC.
More importantly, they are 7-0 against the spread during the winning streak! (Yes, to me, that's more important, and unless you've priced out a stitched Arian Foster jersey, you are unable to comment about or judge me.) Indeed, the Texans are not only enriching our lives emotionally, they are literally enriching us financially!
It is truly the most wonderful time of the year! With that said, let's get on with this week's picks, shall we? And we start with a couple appetizers that only a true degenerate can appreciate -- meaningless college bowls!
Florida International -4 over Marshall (St. Petersburg Bowl, Tuesday 12/20) I couldn't name one player on either of these teams, but I'm giving out a pick for two reasons. First, it's a football game that will be on television on a Tuesday night. Seriously, what else are you going to be doing? Second, this bowl's sponsor is a Tampa-area sports bar chain called Beef 'O' Brady's, which means that this bowl managed to unseat our own Galleryfurniture.com bowl as the most obscurely, locally named bowl in college football history. I've always thought that "Beef O'Brady" would have made a great name for a pasty, red-haired Irish brawler in WWE. Unfortunately, WWE has this exact character and decided to name him Sheamus:
Boise State -14 over Arizona State (Las Vegas Bowl, Thursday 12/22) Normally, a huge overriding factor in picking bowl games is the "Who wants to be there more?" factor. Logically, it would seem that Boise State, who by rights of performance (11-1 on the season) should have been in a BCS bowl, would want to be at a pre-Christmas bowl game about as much as Carlos Lee would want to be in a session of hot yoga. But I'm going to buck logic on this one, for a few reasons:
1. I think Boise State head coach Chris Petersen will have his team ready to play. Boise always plays like they have something to prove, and have spent the last decade trying to get to a respect level where they're a perennial top-five preseason team. They don't want to give that all back in one game against a 6-6 underachieving Sun Devil squad.
2. Arizona State is a consistent top-five school as well...on Playboy's "Top Party School" list. Warm weather, loose academics, hot chicks. There's a reason football players go to ASU. So when it comes time to go to Vegas (of all places) for a meaningless bowl game, which team is more likely to have players wind up breaking curfew and getting caught in clubs? I'll go with the "party school"-goers.
3. If you believe in degrees of karma, then ASU has to at least get some sort of peripheral negative rub from the way their future head coach, Todd Graham, left his job at Pitt this week to take the ASU job -- notifying his players by text that he was leaving after one season. Somewhere, every Rice alum is leaning back in his chair, nodding his head, with a big cigar in his mouth. They know Graham's act first-hand, too.
This, by the way, is my favorite game on the board for the entire bowl season (which means that ASU probably wins outright by three touchdowns.) Cowboys -6 1/2 over BUCCANEERS The Cowboys have lost the last two weeks in excruciating fashion, first the "Garrett ices his own kicker" game against the Cardinals two weeks ago and then the "12-point lead coughed up late" game against the Giants last weekend. And yet, here they are, still tied atop the painfully mediocre NFC East. The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have quit on their head coach Raheem Morris ("quitting forensics" were easy in this case...a 41-14 loss to Jacksonville last week at home). I expect the Cowboys to play one of their best games of the year on Saturday night.
Seahawks +3 1/2 over BEARS The Seahawks have the hottest running back in football right now (Marshawn Lynch), a defense that is playing lights out, solid special teams, and are one of the hottest teams in the league, having won four of their last five. The Bears are missing Matt Forte and Jay Cutler, and Caleb Hanie on the latest quarterback power rankings of the 32 starting quarterbacks is ranked 154th (that's an estimate). Take the 3 1/2 to be safe, but I'm gonna roll Seahawks money line, bitches.
TEXANS -7 over Panthers If it ain't broke...
Patriots -6 1/2 over BRONCOS To beat the Patriots, you're going to have to score points. Yes, I know the Patriots' pass defense sucks and yes I know that Tebow put up points a couple weeks ago against Minnesota, but I don't think Tebow has the right toolbar to hurt the Patriots on defense (can't attack their brutal secondary) and Tom Brady won't be dishing out the picks like Christian Ponder did a couple weeks ago. I'll get back on the Tebow train next week. Christmas Eve seems like a much safer day to get back on his bandwagon.
Last week: 3-3 Season record: 50-34
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays, and watch the simulcast on Comcast 129 from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.