In the world of professional wrestling, there is a category of performer that is somewhat degradingly referred to as "enhancement talent." These are the nondescript guys you see on the weekend television shows that the big stars of the company generally squash in about three or four minutes. (They are also referred to as "jobbers" or "jobronis," for what it's worth.)
In other words, the sole purpose of the "enhancement talent" is to make the big stars look good, i.e. ENHANCE the superstars' profile and ability to draw money. While the NFL is not scripted like WWE, and while the league doesn't choose which teams function as the "enhancement talent," the truth is that, as a season evolves, certain teams become cannon fodder for the big dogs in the league, to where it seems like the sole purpose of the NFL's dregs is to enhance the profile of the Patriots and Seahawks of the world.
I give you that preamble to deliver the bad news, Houston — in the absence of Deshaun Watson, your Texans have become the enhancement talent of the NFL. If you don't believe me, then just go look up the list of Players of the Week thus far this season. The Texans have allowed four in eight games played, including two in the last two weeks — Russell Wilson in Week 8 and T.Y. Hilton in Week 9.
No team is doing more to enhance the Pro Bowl credentials of other players than Houston Texans, of late, and if you need one more metric to confirm this, just know that they Texans are 12.5 point underdogs to the Rams this weekend. Let's find some things to watch in the game, shall we?
In HBO's preseason series Hard Knocks back in 2016, then-rookie QB Jared Goff literally didn't even know which direction the sun rose from. Seriously, he did not know. It was not a good look for a No. 1 overall pick playing a position where intelligence is a prerequisite, and Goff's 2016 season went about how you'd expect. He was brutal. Now, enter new head coach Sean McVay, an offensive wizard, and Goff has steadied himself to become one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league, with 13 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. As long as we are talking about Players of the Week, Goff took home that honor for the NFC last week on the offensive side of the ball. The Texans' secondary has been super leaky against good offensive teams, and I'd expect a big day from Goff and his weapons like Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods.
3. Wade Phillips, pleasant maniac
Is there a human being whose behavior in how he acts tactically in his job differs from his actual behavior as a human being any more than than Wade Phillips? In real life, ol' soft spoken Wade would be the ideal next door neighbor, lending you any power tools you need and offering you a beer if you're just standing in the driveway. As a defensive coordinator, Phillips is ruthless, pounding the red button of BLITZ with a clenched fist until your quarterback's head falls off. This is your warning, Tom Savage, that your head might fall off on Sunday, in large part because of teammates like....
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
2. Xavier Su'a-FilOH NO! (Am I right?)
If you're looking for a microcosm of the Texans' "enhancement talent" lot in their NFL life, look no further than their left guard out of UCLA, who routinely allows pressure up the middle in passing situations, and who has not improved one iota since the Texans used the 33rd pick of the 2014 draft to take him. Su'a-Filo is one of the truly worst players at his position in the league, which is a huge problem going up against the Rams' Aaron Donald, who has usurped the title of "Best Defensive Lineman" from J.J. Watt in these last two injury-torn seasons for the Texans' defensive end. If I'm Tom Savage, I have my life insurance all in order this Sunday, and I have a lawsuit ready to slap on Su'a-Filo for reckless negligence.
1. Bill O'Brien, game manager
After Sunday's game against the Colts, another game in which Bill O'Brien employed sketchy game management tactics (if not, out and out game management malpractice), he declared to the media that he did not want to discuss any of the "B.S." about clock management, which is like an alcoholic showing up for an A.A. meeting not wanting to discuss "any of this B.S. about my drinking!" This continues to be a huge blind spot for O'Brien that you could argue has cost them games this season. The job of a head coach is to maximize his team's chances to win, given the roster he has in front of him. Too many times this season, O'Brien is making decisions that tangibly reduce his team's chances of winning. Honestly, this Sunday, the best we can hope for is O'Brien is put in a position to redeem himself, because on paper, this game lines up as one that will be decided LONG before O'Brien as a chance to butcher a late game situation.
SPREAD: Rams -12.5
PREDICTION: Rams 28, Texans 10
RECORD: 6-2 SU, 4-4 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.