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NFL PLAYOFFS—HOUSTON TEXANS IN, DALLAS COWBOYS OUT

 

Last updated 12/30/2019 at Noon



The final day of the 2019 National Football League season left a lot to be desired at many of the stadiums around the country.

Teams that were fairly locked in to their positions for this weekend’s “Wild Card” playoffs kept many of their starting players on the bench—some dressed out in their uniforms and others in street clothes along the sidelines.

This is one of my pet peeves during the final couple weeks of the season—healthy starters sitting on the pine while their understudies get the opportunity to play in a “real” game, some against a team that was in a “must-win” situation to either get into the playoffs or watch them on television in their home living room this weekend.

Houston Texans’ head coach Bill O’Brien was rather coy about discussing this matter with the media with his “we’ll just have to wait and see” knowing all along that back-up quarterback A.J. McCarron was taking most of the snaps during practice last week.

I just feel real sorry for the 71.794 fans who filled NRG Stadium Sunday afternoon to see their Texans defeat the Tennessee Titans for the second time in three weeks and went home terribly disappointed that Houston was soundly defeated 35-14, not to mention the several hundred dollars spent for the family on tickets, parking and concessions.

After the Texans fell behind by a couple of touchdowns, McCarron had to run for his life to avoid the Titans’ pass rushers who were supposedly blocked by mostly second- teamers.

Up the road to Jerry Jones’ Palace, his Dallas Cowboys were routing the hapless Washington Redskins 47-16 and keeping their fingers crossed that the less-than-mediocre New York Giants could do to the Philadelphia Eagles what the Cowboys failed to do the week before.

The two teams played on equal terms until the fourth period when the cream rose to the top and the Eagles scored 17 points to win 34-17 and the NFC East Division by one game over Dallas.

If Philly lost, the two teams would have ended in a tie at 8-8, but Dallas would have been the division champs because of the most division victories.

Soon after the final gun sounded at AT&T Stadium, the attention turned to Cowboys’ head coach Jason Garrett, whose contract expired at the end of the game.

He reportedly was scheduled to meet with Jones sometime on Monday.

Jethroe has been threatening to fire Garrett all season long, but hasn’t done so at this writing.

The players all like Garrett even though he hasn’t won many playoff games.

My question is what top caliber coach could Jones hire who would put up with all his shenanigans and be his “yes man”? My prediction is that Jethroe will leave well enough alone and give Garrett a new contract or fire him before this column hits the streets Tuesday.

Either way, Garrett will be coaching in the NFL next season, either at Dallas or one of the teams that currently is without a coach.

Freddie Kitchens was let go by the Cleveland Browns Sunday after a 6-10 record in his only year.

Pat Shurmur was fired Monday morning by the New York Giants after

going 9-23 in two seasons.

ESPN says that Baylor head coach Matt Rhule is a top candidate because he served as the Giants’ assistant in 2012.

Getting back to realistic NFL playoffs, those who saw Sunday’s Houston- Tennessee fiasco may be really surprised at the different team that will show up to play Buffalo on Saturday.

J.J. Watt has been activated and is supposedly raring to go in this weekend’s playoffs and is sure to be a game-changer for the Texans’ defense.

Going into Sunday’s game against Tennessee, Houston was 28 th in defense, including 20 th against the run and 30 th against the pass.

In his eight games this season Watt had four sacks and one forced fumble.

Despite missing the last eight games, Watt still is second on the team in sacks, behind Whitney Mercilus who has 7½.

Only nose tackle D.J. Reader has more tackles (52).

Watt led the league with 20 quarterback hits after eight games.

He had 43.5% of the Texans’ defense’s quarterback hits, according to last week’s Houston Chronicle.

As usual, the Texans (10-6) will have the first AFC playoff game against the Buffalo Bills (10-6) Saturday at 3:35 p.m.

on ABC and ESPN followed by Tennessee (9- 7) at New England 12-4) at 7:15 p.m.

on CBS. The winner of the Houston-Buffalo game will play at Baltimore (14-2) Jan. 11 at 7:15 p.m.

on CBS while the Tennessee-New England victor will take on Kansas City (12- 4) at 2:05 p.m.

Jan. 12 also on CBS. Both NFC playoffs take place Sunday with Minnesota (10-6) at New Orleans (13- 3) at 12:05 p.m.

on NBC followed by Seattle (11-5) at Philadelphia (9-7) at 3:40 p.m.

on Fox.

The Philly-Seattle winner will play San Francisco (13-3) Jan.11 at 3:35 p.m.

on NBC while the Minnesota-New Orleans winner will play at Green Bay (13-3) on Jan 12 at 5:40 p.m.

on Fox.

KWICKIES…The only time the Oklahoma Sooners “held that Tiger,” it cost them a 10-yard penalty as LSU completely outclassed them Saturday afternoon in the Peach Bowl 63-20 while favored Clemson rallied in the second half to subdue Ohio State 29-23 in the Fiesta Bowl and kept its 29-game winning streak alive to set up the National Championship Game Jan. 13 at the Superdome in New Orleans at 7 p.m.

on ESPN. I personally believe the Bayou Bengals could beat an all-star team composed of the best players from both Clemson and Ohio State.

However, LSU in only a 5 ½-point favorite.

The Texas Longhorns are a 7-point underdog in today’s Alamo Bowl game against Utah in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

The game kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

and can be seen on ESPN. The Houston Texans rewarded veteran outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus a four-year contract extension last week worth $54 million with $28.5 million guaranteed.

The deal averages $13.5 million annually making him the 16 th highest paid edge rusher in the NFL. JUST BETWEEN US…I want to wish all my faithful readers a very happy and prosperous 2020, especially the kind soul who puts my morning newspapers on my front porch whenever inclement weather is either happening or is forecast!!!

 

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