To exactly nobody's surprise, the Rockets and James Harden agreed on Wednesday afternoon to a five-year, $80 million contract extension, making Harden the first maximum contract player that Daryl Morey has inked to a deal in his tenure as Rockets general manager, and sending a clear message that Harden is the foundation of this team beginning now.
The Rockets' "New Age" (their latest marketing slogan) is truly the "Age of Harden."
But Harden wasn't alone in getting a new deal this week. Toronto signed DeMar DeRozan to a four-year, $40 million extension, Chicago locked up Taj Gibson for four years and $38 million, and finally, Golden State inked Steph Curry to a four-year, $44 million deal.
Lots of young guys with a lot of new money. Fellas, you're going to need sound investment advice. May I interest you in the following six-team parlay?
Clemson -12 over DUKE I'll admit it was really strange seeing Duke's record sitting at 6-2 eight games into the season. Really weird. Typically, Duke is good at two things -- men's basketball and schoolwork. Now sitting at 6-3, if you peruse Duke's schedule, you notice a trend. Here are the six teams Duke has beaten, with final scores:
vs Florida International, 46-26 vs North Carolina Central, 54-17 vs Memphis, 38-14 @ Wake Forest, 34-27 vs Virginia, 42-17 vs North Carolina, 33-30
Here are the final scores of the three games Duke has lost:
@ Stanford, 50-13 @ Virginia Tech, 41-20 @ Florida State, 48-7
Notice the teams they've beaten all pretty much suck, and when they're on the field with a team with more talent, significantly more talent, they lose by at least three scores? I noticed it. I know this one is in Durham, but Clemson has significantly more talent than the Blue Devils. We will go Tigers on this one.
WEST VIRGINIA -6 over TCU West Virginia had a bye week this past week, and during the bye week, their head coach Dana Holgorsen accomplished three things:
1. Made some personnel changes to a defense that had gotten fried for 55 points (and it could have been 75) against Kansas State 2. Recruited his ass off so he could make more personnel changes in training camp come next season 3. Apparently, he also fathered a small child!** Say hello to Baby Holgorsen, the consensus winner of internet Halloween contests everywhere!
(**Child not actually Holgorsen's)
Anyway, it feels weird to say this, because Gary Patterson's defenses at TCU have been so very good the last five years or so, but the Horned Frog defense is exactly what the Mountaineers' doctor ordered. In their last two games, the Mountaineers have scored a mere 14 points a game, and the Frogs have given up 37.5 per contest in their last four. Six points feels very coverable for West Virginia, look for the offense to get back on track.
TEXAS TECH -6 1/2 over Texas The Longhorns might be the worst 6-2 in the entire country. Their quarterback situation is a mess, their defense can't tackle, their team is soft, their coach is losing his marbles, and if Charlie Weis hadn't treated his timeouts last Saturday like they were glazed crullers (Charlie was not going to give up those timeouts!), the Longhorns might have lost to the Jayhawks! Texas Tech has a solid quarterback, a somewhat sound defense, a little bit of hunger, and a coach you can at least trust. Advantage, Red Raiders.
IOWA STATE +12 1/2 over Oklahoma I was in Norman for that Oklahoma- Notre Dame game last weekend, and I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was the loudest environment I've been in since LSU beat Florida in Baton Rouge in 1997. It was crazy. Everyone in crimson and cream was fully emotionally invested in that one -- fans, coaches, players, the band, the students, the horses pulling the Sooner Schooner, everyone. My point is this -- I can't imagine the Sooners coming out in sharp in this one with the Cyclones, especially with an 11 a.m. kickoff. Oklahoma will be flat, and this Iowa State team is just good enough to stay within single digits of (and maybe even beat) a flat OU squad.
COLTS +2 over Dolphins The most pivotal game in the AFC this week is Miami at Indianapolis. The winner will be 5-3. You all saw this coming, didn't you? Sure you did.
Bills/TEXANS OVER 47 1/2 In the Bills four losses, the two teams have gone over the total all four times, and in three of them the total went WAY over (76, 80, and 69 points). I expect the Bills to lose this game, I Texans to score lots of points, and I do think that the Bills have some weapons that hit at a couple of the minor flaws in this Texans defense, namely they can run the ball a little bit and they have a talented tight end in Scott Chandler. My prediction: Texans 34, Bills 17.
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Last week: 2-4 Season record: 24-23-1
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 8 a.m. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.