"These are the times that try men's souls." — Thomas Paine
That quote was written by Paine back in the 1700s as part of a pamphlet in the "American Crisis" series of writings, in which Paine was trying to motivate American citizens to remain part of the Continental Army, no easy chore back then as most of the army was made up of non-militia, farmer types. For the commander of the army, George Washington, attrition was almost as big a problem as the opponent.
And so it is, for Battle Red Day this Sunday, that I once again, 241 years later, invoke that phrase to hopefully motivate the Houston Texans' own Continental Army, their legion of loyal fans, to make the drive to NRG Stadium and watch their 4-8 team take on the 2-10 San Francisco 49ers. They need you, people!
Sunday at noon will indeed be a time that tries men's (and women's... and children's) battle red souls. Let's try to find a few reasons to watch this bad boy....
4. Jimmy Garoppolo Time!
A game that will likely straddle the boundaries of watchability, had a weird wrinkle injected into it in these last two weeks, as the Niners finally inserted former Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo into the starting lineup. The Niners acquired Tom Brady's former backup just before the trade deadline for a second round pick, and presumably his performance over the upcoming last month of the season will be the deciding factor in whether to franchise tag Jimmy G, give him a gigantic contract extension, or draft another quarterback and move on (unlikely as that may be). Garoppolo's first start as a 49er was a successful one, as he led San Francisco to a 15-14 road win in Chicago, while throwing for 293 yards. Reportedly, back in 2014, Bill O'Brien was a fan of Garoppolo when he was coming out of Eastern Illinois, but the Patriots jumped on him late in the second round before the Texans could nab him early in the third round. All's well that ends well, the Texans are perfectly happy with their future under center in Deshaun Watson's hands, but Texan fans will get to see, in some sense, what might have been had 2014 gone a different direction.
3. DeAndre Hopkins historical campaign
Ok, with the season basically over and with about half the Texans' original 2017 roster now on injured reserve or in concussion protocol, what else is there to watch for this Sunday? Hey, there's DeAndre Hopkins! He is still good at football, right? Why, yes he is, Texan Fan, and despite the injury to Deshaun Watson at quarterback, Hopkins is still putting up big numbers and making the NFL Network's highlight reel every week. Hopkins enters Week 14 of the season second in the league in receiving yards with a good chance at first team All-Pro honors. Antonio Brown has one first team spot locked up, so Hopkins is in a three way battle with Julio Jones and Adam Thielen for the other spot. Also, Hopkins has a very, very outside shot at some Texans season records if he can really ratchet things up these last four games. He is 38 catches short of the Texans' season record (115, Andre Johnson), 514 receiving yards short of the Texans' season record (1,598, also Andre Johnson), and two touchdown catches short of his own season record (11, back in 2015). The touchdown record is the only one within a reasonable range, but it'd be fun if Hopkins entered Week 17 against the Colts in a monster game's range of the team records. (I know it's not as much as fun as battling for a playoff spot, but this is where we are, man.)
So let's enjoy the one man show that is DeAndre Hopkins! As for other stuff.... oh boy, what else.... oh, I know!
Guess who the Houston Texans honorary captain is on Sunday? It's two-time NBA Finals MVP and Hall of Famer, former Houston Rocket great Hakeem Olajuwon! This gives me a reason to post my favorite Olajuwon highlight video....
So maybe you don't want to show up to support a 4-8 football team, but maybe you want to show up to support THE DREAM!
1. David Anderson, greatest Houston Texan ever
Ok, I'm fresh out of reasons to watch the game on Sunday, so I'll leave you with this remarkable video by former Houston Texans wide receiver David Anderson. For those who don't know, D.A. lives in Southern California and is a huge Dodger fan. We made a bet before the World Series — if the Dodgers won, I would have to do my radio show topless (which nobody wants to see) for an hour and post the video on the internet, and if the Astros won, he would have to sing the horribly wretched Astros theme song "Go, Go Astros" in the most embarrassing fashion possible.
David did not disappoint.....
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SHOW ME HOW
A @DavidAnderson89 always pays his bets.— SportsRadio 610 (@SportsRadio610) December 5, 2017
Here is the former #Texans WR and lifelong @Dodgers fan singing "Go Go #Astros" to pay off his #WorldSeries Bet w/@SeanTPendergast, Rich & @Teddyjradio.
Thank you @Astros for winning for now we have this.
He's on #3T at 2:45 Today pic.twitter.com/nKCZLksO2o
If the Texans put forth half the effort David Anderson did here, they'll win by three touchdowns.
SPREAD: Texans -3
PREDICTION: 49ers 20, Texans 16
RECORD: 9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.