NFL Preview Houston Texans VS Atlanta Falcons

HOUSTON TEXANS MAIN

I’m working with Moore Sports Head https://mooresportshead.wordpress.com/2015/09/30/atlanta-falcons-vs-houston-texans-breakdown/ to give a preview/breakdown of the Week 4 game between the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons. We will try to choose a marquee NFL game every 3 weeks and give our thoughts. In this matchup, I’ll look at the Texans and Moore Sports Head will cover the Falcons. Both teams enter this game as polar opposites. Houston relies heavily on their stingy defense led by JJ Watt while the Falcons rely on the dynamic offensive duo of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Something will have to give in this early season matchup.

The Texans at 1-2 will travel to Atlanta (3-0) on Sunday for what is sure to be an exciting game. Both teams are tied for first place in their respective divisions. The reason this game is huge for Houston is because they’ll take on divisional foes in weeks 5 and 6 (VS Indianapolis 10/8; at Jacksonville 10/18). That means they need to come out ready to play this Sunday to avoid a 1-3 start. Houston opened the season with a home loss to Kansas City (27-20) and a road loss at Carolina (24-17) in week 2. They were able to get their first win of the season by beating Tampa Bay 19-9 in Houston. Atlanta will be their 3rd NFC South opponent of the early season. With the AFC South being one of the weaker divisions in the NFL – each team is currently 1-2 – it is crucial for Houston not to drop another game against the NFC South.

Slow starts and trailing at halftime has been the theme of the first three games for Houston. Brian Hoyer (18/34, 236 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 fumble) started game one and to put it nicely was not very good. As a result he was benched with 6 minutes remaining in the season opener and Ryan Mallet took over. Mallet (8/13, 98 yards, 1 TD) led the Texans on two scoring drives and the rest is history. Wide Receivers DeAndre Hopkins (9-98 yards 2 TD) and Nate Washington (6-105) led the way in that one. The defense was able to keep Jamaal Charles in check but gave up 243 passing yards and 3 TDs to Alex Smith. 2 of those TDs went to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention the rushing attack in week 1? Well week 2 wasn’t any better. The Texans managed a measly 61 yards on 23 carries while throwing the ball a whopping 58 times! Mallet (27-58, 244 yards 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 rush TD) got the start in game 2 and had a so-so day. Facing a respectable Carolina defense and falling behind early made the day rough. Also add in that the offense was horrible on third down for the second consecutive game (3/14 VS Kansas City; 5/19 VS Carolina). The Texans were gashed on the ground defensively allowing 172 yards (76 by Cam Newton). Newton was also able to hit Greg Olsen 6 times for 70 yards.

In week 3 the Texans were back at home and were able to correct some of their problems from the first 2 games. Houston got their first win of the season despite trailing at the half. They had a balanced attack offensively (46 rushes VS 39 passes) and got a big day from Alfred Blue (139 yards and 1TD) as a result. Houston offense was able to win the time of possession battle while piling up 413 total yards and converted 8 of their 18 third down opportunities. Mallet went 24-39 for 228 yards w/ 1 TD & 1 INT. Hopkins had another good day with 8 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD. The defense stepped up and allowed only 57 yards on the ground.

The Texans still have issues to correct if they want to beat Atlanta. A good place to start is penalties and turnovers. They’ve committed 26 penalties this season and have a negative 2 in the takeaway/giveaway category. They will also need to start fast and keep the ball away from Atlanta. That means building on last week’s rushing totals and better success in 3rd down situations. The Falcons are 23rd in the NFL in total defense and allow 24 PTS/GM but have a plus 2 in takeaway/giveaway.  On defense I’m sure the Texans already know about Atlanta’s high-powered offense – 3rd in total offense and averaging 29.7 PTS/GM – led by Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Ryan is 2nd in the NFL with 946 passing yards and is top 10 in a number of quarterback statistics. Julio has been all world in 3 games with a league leading 34 receptions and 440 yards (146.7 yds/GM) along with 4 TDs. Houston enters Sunday’s game 12th in total defense allowing 20 PTS/GM and 224 Passing Yards/GM. They only have 4 sacks in 3 games. Three of those are by Mr. JJ Watt. However on the positive side the Texans defense is top 5 in passes defended with 18 and opposing offenses have only converted 21.1% of their 3rd down opportunities against them. Success by the defense on 3rd down will be huge. The quicker they get ATL’s offense to the sidelines the better.

Houston will have chances to score on Sunday. The question hovering over them is “will they take advantage of those chances?” They’ll need another balanced attack led by Alfred Blue. Mallet will also need to protect the football and be more efficient. He’s thrown an interception in both of his starts and has an unimpressive 53.6 completion percentage. I expect for DeAndre Hopkins – team leader in receiving (22 catches, 252 yards, 3 TD) – to see some attention which means the field should open up for Nate Washington and Cecil Shorts III. On defense, the pass rushers should be happy because they’ll get plenty of attempts to get their sack totals up. This is also an opportunity for Jadeveon Clowney to have a breakout day. He’ll be close to his home state South Carolina and I’m sure many of his friends and family will be watching. The Texans will also need to force some turnovers. That’s an aspect they’ve been lacking so far. They currently have 2 interceptions and no forced fumbles. Also need to keep an eye on Devonta Freeman. He had a solid day running the ball VS Dallas and will look to do the same this week.

In a surprise choice I’m taking the Texans to win on the road 27-24. I think they’ll have a balanced attack on offense and their defense will get after Matt Ryan to increase their sack and turnover totals. Randy Bullock was waived by the Texans.  The former kicker for Houston was 5-6 on field goal attempts and 3-5 on extra points. The Texans replaced him with Nick Novak who kicked for San Diego last season was released by the Chargers during the preseason.**  The Texans will need Novak at his best as every point will be needed. I hope he avoids a “Kickers ain’t shit” moment in his return.

*All stats courtesy of http://espn.go.com/nfl/statistics

**https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nick_Novak

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NFL Preview Houston Texans VS Atlanta Falcons

Oh It’s Lit – MLB National League Breakdown

american-league-logo

October is only a few days away and that means the MLB Playoffs are close.  It’s the last week of the regular season and the Playoff races are hot.  6 of the 10 playoff spots have been taken.  In the National League, the New York Mets (NL East), St Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Chicago Cubs are all in.  The Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs are all battling for the NL Central and Wild Card spots.  I’ll get into that later.  In the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers magic number to clinch the division is 2.  They have a 6 game lead over the San Francisco Giants – who they’ll meet in a 4 game series starting tonight – in the NL West.  The NL West will either be decided by Thursday or provide us an exciting weekend.   In the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Kansas City Royals (AL Central) have clinched their spots.  The Blue Jays magic number is down to 4 and they have a 4 game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.  The AL West and AL Wild Card positions are both a big mess.  3 games separate the three teams battling in the AL West.  The Texas Rangers have a 2.5 game lead over the Houston Astros and a 3 game lead over the Los Angeles Angels.  The Yankees lead the AL Wild Card by 4.5 and Houston has a 0.5 game lead over the Angels for the 2nd Wild Card spot.  There are a host of teams in the American League with a slim chance at the 2nd Wild Card position.

I’ll take the National League today because the scenarios are easier to lay out.  7 of the top 10 pitchers in MLB hail from the National League (Dodgers, Cubs, Pirates, Mets, and Cardinals). If you notice, those five teams are competing for playoff positioning. The Mets are in the Playoffs and will face whoever wins the NL West.  Should things stay as they are, the Mets will have home field advantage in the 5 – game series against their opponent.  In the NL West, the Dodgers just need to win two games.  They have 7 remaining (4 at the Giants and 3 at home VS the San Diego Padres).  The Giants have 7 at home, the 4 with the Dodgers and the final 3 VS the Colorado Rockies. The Dodgers will be throwing their aces in the first two games against San Fran. Zack Greinke (18-3, MLB best 1.65 ERA) will pitch Game 1 and Clayton Kershaw (15-7, 3rd best MLB 2.25 ERA) will start Game 2. Greinke is coming off of time missed due to a calf injury. The Giants will counter with Jake Peavy in the first game and 2014 World Series and NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner (18-8, 2.88 ERA) in the second game. The defending champs are 6-0 against the Dodgers at home this season and 9-6 overall. Bumgarner has gone 1-2 in matchups against both Greinke and Kershaw. If the Giants can win the first two games then the series and end of the season will be very exciting. The Giants winning ways could be the deciding factor against the banged up Dodgers who are depending on veterans and young players to carry them into the post season. The Dodgers will get it done against their bitter rivals in Northern California and clinch the Division before heading back home to Los Angeles.

The NL Central along with the Wild Card spots is still up for grabs. The three teams involved – St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago – all hail from the same Division. St. Louis leads Pittsburgh by 3 games and has a magic number of 4 to clinch the #1 spot in the National League and home field advantage. The Cardinals and Pirates begin a decisive 3 game series tonight in Pittsburgh. The series is big because the Pirates have a 4.5 game lead over Chicago. The Pirates were on an 8-game winning streak before losing at Chicago last night. The Cardinals and Pirates are 8-8 against each other so far this season with Pittsburgh going 5-2 at home. The Pirates will throw their ace, Gerrit Cole (18-8, 2.60 ERA) in game 3 of the series. Cole has pitched 19.1 innings against the Cards. He has struck out 16 batters and only given up 5 earned runs for a 2.33 ERA. If the game is close in the late innings the Pirates will turn to Mark Melancon who leads the MLB with 51 saves. He also has a 1.95 ERA. In 6 innings against the Cardinals he has 4 Ks and no runs allowed. St. Louis will throw Michael Wacha in Game 2 of the series. Wacha is 17-6 overall with a 3.15 ERA. Wacha’s has risen to the occasion when facing Pittsburgh. In 18.2 innings pitched he has allowed only 4 earned runs while posting a 1.93 ERA and 10 Ks. The Cardinals won’t have John Lackey at their disposal after he pitched on Sunday. Both teams have 3 more games after this series ends. The Pirates stay at home to play Cincinnati and the Cardinals travel to Atlanta.

As for the Cubs, they will play 6 of their 7 remaining games on the road. Their lone home game will be a make up game tonight versus Kansas City. After that they’ll travel to Cincinnati to start a 3-game series and then end their season at Milwaukee. The Cubs will throw veterans Jon Lester and Cole Hammels in games 2 and 3 at Cincy. Then their ace Jake Arrieta will take the mound in Game 1 at Milwaukee. Arrieta sits atop the MLB with 21 wins (21-6). He also boasts 2nd best ERA in MLB at 1.82 and has 229 strikeouts this season. He’s coming off of a stellar performance in which he went 7 innings tossing 9 strikeouts and giving up only 1 hit versus Pittsburgh to help Chicago win 4-0. The Cubs have won 16 of the last 17 games that Arrieta has pitched in. Over that time period Arrieta went 14-1, with 2 no decisions and lowered his ERA from 2.80 to 1.82. He has 126 strikeouts and allowed only 13 earned runs. With that being said, the Cubs will need Arrieta to still be on top of his game when they go on the road to face either Pittsburgh or St. Louis in the one game Wild Card. The Pirates are hot and St. Louis is ripe for the picking as their star catcher Yadier Molina will be out for the rest of the regular season with an injury to his left thumb. This one is too close to call but I’ll stick with the Cardinals to hang on and win the NL Central. Check the blog tomorrow for a breakdown of the American League playoff run.

All Stats Courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/ and http://espn.go.com/mlb/

Oh It’s Lit – MLB National League Breakdown

How We Love These…

I always felt that my first music blog would be about Freddie Gibbs but instead I’m here talking about one of music’s favorite and most controversial topics “Hoes”. Gibbs is probably my favorite rapper at the moment and he too has touched on the subject. I’m not focusing on him now though. Instead I look at the different ways male musicians love singing about hoes. Whether they’re bragging about them, chasing them, or trying to save them – one thing remains the same – dudes really love making songs about them. And I know many are thinking with the recent N.W.A movie that I’m talking solely about rap but nah the topic crosses into other genres. There have been years and years of songs about the topic.

My journey to this topic was very random. It started with me getting on Instagram and seeing this shirt on my TL.

nwa-the-police_fucknwa_t_sh

Interesting huh? Now if you have no idea who the 3 men on that shirt are then look up the group “The Police” and some guy named Sting. That should make the “Fuck N.W.A.” part funny (well at least it’s funny to me). So now I explain how The Police tie into this whole topic of singing about “hoes”. Well the group has a very popular song called Roxanne. Roxanne is a song about a prostitute “not having to put on the red light” anymore because well Sting was there to save the day. He gracefully sums it up with the following lines: “I loved you since I knew you – I wouldn’t talk down to you – I have to tell you just how I feel – I won’t share you with another boy”. Like I said it’s a great song and I think you should check it out below.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WXzFCS72QIA

This one here may come as a surprise to some but yeah here we go. A few years ago music mogul Diddy hit it big when he was able to help the vodka brand “Ciroc” expand in the United States. As part of helping the brand take off, Diddy released a great commercial featuring some of our favorite entertainers in it.  The group crashes Vegas and has a great night “breaking the bank”. The whole time there’s a classic song by Frank Sinatra playing in the background. The name of the song is “Luck Be A Lady”. Now on the surface the song appears to be very innocent and one wouldn’t think much of it. I mean you have a bunch of guys in Vegas gambling and a song about “Luck”. Well that was until I decided to actually “listen” to the song and not get caught up in the chorus and band. Boy was I cracking up after finally listening to the song. Somewhere in the Twitterverse there are a series of tweets of someone going on a rant about the song.

Frank did a very good job with the wordplay on this one. I mean the song starts off with an intro for the ages that ends with him stating, “so the best that I can do is pray”. Sinatra goes on to drop plenty of lines with double meanings. In the process Frank talks about “cuffing” this chick so things won’t get out of hand between him, the young lady, and some other guy. I’m sure those of you that are familiar with The Rat Pack have heard or read about the rumblings. I went years “hearing” this song and then a Ciroc commercial changed the way I heard it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJpGHR6ofus

The third and final song is a soulful ballad titled “Two Wrongs” by Mayer Hawthorne. This one doesn’t come with the same topics as above but shows how both parties can exhibit “whore-like” ways, as my wife likes to say.  “Two Wrongs” follows the classic cheating love song layout. There’s the beginning where Mayer acknowledges, “they say two wrongs don’t make a right” as many of us have often heard. He even states how “we all make bad decisions…that we make mistakes sometimes” – not quite sure why Mayer is bringing us in HIS mess – but when in “that moment” oh well! In the second verse he goes on to tell us the problem. He talks about how him and his secret lover can’t get caught up in some mess. Because well he has a woman and the lady that he’s sneaking around with has a man. He goes on to end the verse by talking about how the situation is so wrong but never says he’s not staying the night. The last word we hear from Mayer is “How”. This leads me to believe that he spent a night and then after it was all said and done, he could only ask – “How?” – in reference to his predicament.  This video will also help those of you wanting to brush up on your Spanish.

It’s amazing how the different songs we listen to carry so many meanings and messages. Some are plain as day and easy to decipher while others are written with double meanings. I enjoy the three songs I mentioned above and many others like them. Music is an art that is to be enjoyed and at times it’ll take us into a certain mood. There are some lanes that music ventures into that causes some people to question and protest lyrics. There have been claims that certain lyrics influence the decisions that a listener may make. Who knows? Some even say the lyrics are “dumbed down” now. Maybe they are but it seems to me that maybe we were never listening and only hearing to begin with.

How We Love These…

Let Braxton Spin

Those of you that love the movie Friday Night Lights remember the phrase and title of this blog.  I loved that line and movie but I also loved that with one spin move, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller made his way into the Heisman Race.   It is still very early but we’re a “what have you done for me lately?” era.  I will touch on how Braxton’s new role may help keep him in the top 5 of the Heisman list all season. 

So about that Braxton Miller spin move.  I was watching the game with my stepson “KG” and he’s pinging me with questions. “Who’s the QB? Which one got hurt? Why do they have #1 back there?” Right after he asked the third question we both get quiet to watch the play and in a matter of seconds “it” happened and all you hear is “OOOOHHHH!!” from me and KG.  KG’s only 9 but he was focused on the TV just as I was and we were both giddy after seeing this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq6ComNZ_Vs

I can assure you that KG will mimic that spin move and end zone celebration at some during the rest of his peewee football season.

Now back to Miller, who starred at QB for Ohio State from 2011-2013 and was ready to do the same in 2014 until a shoulder injury knocked him out for the season.  Coming off of an undefeated 2013 season and bowl ineligibility, OSU had big plans with Miller.  Ohio State’s plan of a run to win the National Championship occurred but with not one but TWO stellar young QBs (Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett).  This left Miller’s return in limbo and rumors of him transferring started to surface.  After some time had past, Miller had a meeting with Ohio State’s Head Coach Urban Meyer.  I can only guess that the meeting was mainly Meyer telling Braxton “I’m going to let you spin”.  And so in game one of Ohio State’s 2015 season, we saw why Miller is still one of the most dynamic player’s in College Football.  Miller amassed 140 total yards and 2 TDs on 6 carries and 2 catches. Miller was also targeted on two other incomplete passes from Cardale Jones.  17.8% of Ohio State’s offensive plays involved the ball being in Miller’s hands or an attempt to get it in his hands to make something happen.  This doesn’t account for plays when he was on the field and the play didn’t go to him.  This was a positive for Ohio St. in many ways.  The Buckeyes were able to help Miller build confidence playing in new positions/roles (QB/RB/WR/KR) coming off of a season of not playing.  They were able to put fear into future opponents by showcasing Miller’s big play ability.  OSU should be able to use Miller as a deep threat in conventional and unconventional ways.  The “conventional way” will be for Miller to go deep on a fly route and the “unconventional way” would be for him to take a 5-10 yard catch and go to the house via YAC (yards after catch).  Also there’s using Miller as a decoy.  OSU has a bunch of threats that Miller can free up.  The only question we didn’t see answered was “can he still throw a decent pass?”  I’m sure we’ll get that answer soon.

I always like to include videos in my blog post.  To keep the trend going I thought I’d include some nice spin moves from two other sports.  I hope you enjoy.

Let Braxton Spin

How I Became A Fan of…

With the new month here, I’m going to try and up the number of posts I’ve been doing. The month of August saw me provide a grand total of ONE. With football season gearing up I decided to announce the teams I root for and how/why I started rooting for them. Seeing how I got this idea from The Short Fuse (SB Nation site for all things Arsenal), I think it’s only right that I start with them. http://theshortfuse.sbnation.com/?_ga=1.25431546.67990664.1436485909

How long have I been an Arsenal fan: 2013
How did I become an Arsenal fan: I love sports and after watching the 1994 World Cup I had a love for soccer. As a youngster in the 90s I had no clue of European Soccer Clubs. Then in 2008-2009, I found out about the UEFA Champions League and I was hooked. I got into watching the major European Leagues and my love for the sport grew even more. I couldn’t decide which team to root for but I always had a love of Arsenal. After years of mulling I chose the Gunners and haven’t looked back. I often joke that Arsenal’s coach Arsene Wenger looks like an older version of Michael Cera. Juno is one of my favorite movies but that’s not the point of this post. It often gets frustrating watching Arsenal play but I know they’ll turn the corner in the EPL and do more than just finish in the “Top 4”.

Wenger1

How long have I been a Jackson State fan: Forever
How did I become a Jackson State fan: I was born into this fandom. I generally root for the Tigers in most events. There are other posts that document this very well so I won’t go too in depth. I’ll just say watching JSU shock Louisiana-Lafayette in a 2014 NCAA Regional Baseball game was great. Still keeping hope alive that one of the basketball teams can do the same in March Madness.

How long have I been a New Orleans Pelicans fan: 2012
How did I become a New Orleans Pelicans fan: I was never a fan of a team, just a fan of players. So I’d often default to rooting for the teams they were on. In 2005, I attended my first NBA game and got to see my then favorite player LeBron James. The game just happened to be in New Orleans.   After I moved to New Orleans in 2007, I had the chance to attend a lot of games but I never took the Hornets as my team. After LeBron won his first title with the Miami Heat, I started feeling a little different. The times with LBJ had been fun but I felt a little different about the New Orleans Hornets. Especially after they drafted Anthony Davis – which was the first season I was a half season ticket holder – first overall in the 2012 draft. Going to multiple games made me feel like more of a fan, so I latched on to them. I was able to be a half season ticket holder again the next season. That along with the mascot being changed to the Pelicans really sold me. It was great seeing the run they made last season and I hope it continues to move forward. I think AD will have a big say in that.

How long have I been an Arizona Wildcats Basketball fan: 1995
How did I become an Arizona Wildcats Basketball fan: I used to watch a lot of PAC-10 basketball games late at night. The conference was loaded with talent. The O’Bannon brothers, Jason Kidd, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Lamond Murray, Brent Barry, Damon Stoudamire, Tracy Murray, Brevin Knight, Harold Miner and so on. And out of all those guys the thing that attracted me to Arizona was Jason Terry’s long white socks with “CATS” going down the side. I was also a fan of Lute Olson. During Lute’s tenure, Arizona won a National Championship and reached 4 Final Fours but they were also known for getting bounced early in the tournament. The Wildcats haven’t reached the Final Four since losing to Duke in the 2001 NCAA Championship Game.

The other teams I “root” for I can’t even say I seriously “root” for them. I claim the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL but I’m not moved much by them losing game. In MLB, I chose to “root” for the Philadelphia Phillies because I have friends that root for the Atlanta Braves but now that both teams sucks, there’s no point in that. I don’t have a “Big Time” college football team that I root for. I just love watching college football. There’s already enough stress dealing with JSU on Saturdays during the Fall.  I just miss Keith Jackson yelling out “Woah, Nellie!”

How I Became A Fan of…