Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Streaking Rockets Host Bucks

The Houston Rockets have won seven straight games and will try for eight in a row tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Rockets are coming off a 107-92 win over the T-Wolves in Minnesota on Monday night. K. Martin led the Rockets with 31 points while K. Lowry had a triple double.

The Rockets are on their longest winning streak since they won 22-games from Jan.-March. of 2008 and the Rockets haven't lost at home to the Bucks since November of 1999. The Bucks are the only team that hasn't won in the Toyota Center. A win tonight will move the Rockets to 8-1 at home this season.

Kevin Martin is averaging 19.5 points per game for the Rockets and Kyle Lowry is playing like an All-Star averaging 16.5 points per game, 6.9 rebounds and 8.7 assists.

Center Samuel Dalembert has been a nice addition giving the Rockets solid defense around the basket and strong rebounding. Dalembert is averaging 8.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. In the seven game win streak Dalembert is averaging over 13 points and nearly 12 rebounds a game.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 NFL Divisional Playoff Preview

Saturday Jan. 14
 Saints at 49ers - The Saints seem to be clicking on all cylinders after taking apart the Lions last week but they also seem like a different team away from home and this week will be much of the same as they go up against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

While Drew Brees set records in passing yardage this past season the 49ers had the 4th ranked defense and was No. 2 in points allowed at 14.3. Rookie OLB Aldon Smith emerged as one of the leaders on defense as he recorded 14 sacks and will no doubt make it a long day for Saints QB Drew Brees.

The 49ers secondary is more than capable of making plays and slowing down the Saints wide receiving threats as the 49ers finished tied for second in the NFL in interceptions this season with 23.

prediction: 49ers 27-20

Broncos at Patriots - Last week Tim Tebow did it again in overtime as the Broncos shocked the Steelers. This week the Broncos defense will have its hands full against Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.

The Patriots throttled Tim Tebow and the Broncos in December and I fully expect more of the same from the Patriots in this rematch.  The Broncos will have more difficulty trying to stop Brady, Gronkowski and company than the Patriots will stopping Tim Tebow.

prediction: Patriots 34-17

Sunday Jan. 15
Texans at Ravens - Texans aren't being given much of a chance nationally in this game that features two of the top three defenses in the NFL this season. The Texans lost to the Ravens in October with Matt Schaub but they were without Andre Johnson in that one and he will play Sunday.

In the previous match up the Texans led 14-13 late in the 3rd qtr before the Ravens pulled away for a 29-14 win. Baltimore capitalized on a couple of deep passes against the Texans secondary that led to scores.

This game will also feature to of the top running backs in the NFL in Arian Foster and Ray Rice and stopping them will be the focus of both defenses. It seems that most think the Ravens defense is much better than the Texans but Sunday things will change and the Texans will show their dominant defense and the Texans will get the first win against the Ravens in franchise history and Baltimore's ten game home win streak.

 In order for this to happen the Texans will have to stop Ray Rice and make QB Joe Flacco beat them. Rice had 101 yards in the first meeting but he only had 16 yards at the half before breaking loose in the second half. Flacco hasn't played well in his previous playoff games and with Wade Phillips ability to adjust his defense after playing earlier this season expect his struggles to continue.

The Ravens will make it tough on rookie T.J. Yates but having Andre Johnson in this game should give the Texans passing game a boost and open up more opportunities for the ground game. Foster had 15 carries for 49 yards in the first meeting and that should go up this time with Andre getting more attention from the safety. 

The tight ends could play a big part in this game as the Texans will most likely use more three step drops to protect Yates and it will be interesting to see how much they use James Casey. He could cause problems in the Ravens secondary because he can line up as a fullback or tight end. Owen Daniels is expected to play but injured his hand against Bengals so Casey could see more passes.

The Ravens are everybody's pick in this game but in 1979 the Oilers weren't given much of a chance against QB Dan Fouts and the Chargers playing without starting quarterback Dan Pastorini, receiver Ken Burrough and running back Earl Campbell but intercepted Fouts five times and won in San Diego 17-14.

prediction: Texans 20-17

Giants at Packers - The Giants have a track record of playing their best in these types of games and after shutting down the Falcons last week they will try and do the same to the Packers.

The Giants will need to get RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw involved early and try to control the clock. If they are able to run the ball than that will open up some opportunities for Eli Manning to get the ball down field to Victor Cruz, Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks.

The Packers will have trouble running the ball on the Giants front seven but they have enough weapons to put points on the board. They will have to get better defensive play than what they got in their first meeting.

Packers will narrowly escape an upset...this week anyway.

prediction: Packers 28-24

Sunday, January 8, 2012

J.J. Watt's Pick Six Leads To Texans Route Of Bengals

The Houston Texans first playoff game was a memorable 31-10 route of the Bengals in front of a record crowd.

The game changing play was late in the first half when rookie DE J.J. Watt leaped to try and block a pass from Bengals QB Andy Dalton but the ball stuck in his hands and 29 yards later he had his first career touchdown. The touchdown with under a minute left before halftime gave the Texans a 17-10 lead and they never looked back.

J.J. Watt finished the game with one sack, one interception and one touchdown. The defense finished with four sacks and three interceptions.

The offense was led by wide reciever Andre Johnson who in his playoff debut had 5 receptions for 90 yards including a 40 yard touchdown catch that put the Texans up by two touchdowns. Arian Foster turned in an outstanding game with 24 carries for 153 yards, 2 touchdowns and 3 catches for 29 yards.

Rookie QB T.J. Yates played a solid game completing 11-20 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. Yates made good decisions in the passing game but did get away with one pass that should have been intercepted.

With the win the Texans will go to Baltimore to play the Ravens next Sunday at noon. The Texans lost to the Ravens 29-14 earlier this season with Matt Schaub. The Texans led 14-13 late in the third quarter of that game but was playing without Andre Johnson. The Ravens are 8-0 at home this season and the Texans have never beaten them (0-5).

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 NFL Wild-Card Preview

Bengals at Texans 

 The Texans are in the playoffs for the first time in team history. They defeated the Bengals 20-19 in week 14. Rookie T. J. Yates led the offense 80 yards with a little more than 2 minutes left for the go ahead touchdown with 2 seconds remaining. This time the Bengals come to Houston where they will have to deal with crowd noise and wide receiver Andre Johnson who didn't play in the first game. If the Texans can hold on to the ball they should win as they turned it over 4 times in the first meeting. Expect Arian Foster to have a better game running the ball than he did in December, 41 yards on 15 carries.

Texans 24-17

Lions at Saints

This should be a high scoring game as both offenses have been on a roll late in the season. Drew Brees had another MVP caliber year and the Saints play really well at home. Brees set an NFL record for passing yards (5,476) and completion percentage (71.2) while Matthew Stafford threw for 5,038 yards. This could be another game that the crowd will make it tough on the opposing offense. The Lions have a good young offense and are a bit "dirty" on defense. The Saints have much more experience and that will play big in this game.

Saints 37-24

Falcons at Giants

The Giants picked up a couple of big wins down the stretch against the Cowboys that gave them the NFC East title and the No.4 seed. Falcons play much better at home than on the road but will have a chance because of the Giants poor pass defense. The Falcons have a lot of weapons on offense but the defense will need to make some plays. Falcons DE John Abraham will need to step up his play after seeing his sack numbers go down this season. If Atlanta's defense can get consistent pressure on Eli then they could cause problems for the Giants offense.

Giants 24-23

Steelers at Broncos

The Steelers were 12-4 and finished second to the Ravens in a tough AFC North. The Broncos were 8-8 and won a weak AFC West division. Ben Roethlisberger is playing with a sprained left ankle and RB Rashard Mendenhall is out for the season but they should still have enough to beat Denver. The Broncos have a really bad offense and Tim Tebow has managed to win a few games in dramatic fashion but he isn't accurate enough and able to make the reads to beat a defense like the Steelers.  The Broncos defense will not be able to keep it close enough for the offense to pull it out while the Steelers defense will make it a long day for Tebow.

Steelers 24-6

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Texans Prepare For Bengals

The Houston Texans are getting prepared for their first playoff game in franchise history this Saturday against the Cincinnati Bengals. T.J. Yates is expected to start against the Bengals after leaving the Titans game with an injury to his left shoulder.

The Texans ended the season with three straight losses and rested most of their starters in the one point loss to the Tennessee Titans. Andre Johnson did return for a few plays in the loss and should be ready for extensive playing time against the Bengals.

The Texans will have Danieal Manning back returning kicks in the playoffs for the first time since returning from a broken leg.

The Texans defeated the Bengals in week 14 in what was the biggest win in franchise history as they clinched their first division championship in dramatic fashion. The Texans were playing that game without WR Andre Johnson and T.J. Yates had his best game of the season bringing the Texans back from a six point deficit with a little more than two minutes left. Yates finished 26-44 for 300 yards and two touchdowns.

The Bengals haven't played the run very well including the finale against Baltimore when they gave up 191 yards to Ray Rice. In the game a few weeks ago the Texans couldn't get the ground game going as Arian Foster had just 41 yards on 15 carries and Ben Tate had just 8 carries for 67 yards. Foster, Tate and Yates all had fumbles in the game as the Bengals had a 16-3 halftime lead.

If the Texans are going to win they will need to run the ball better this time and hang on to the football as they had four turnovers in the 20-19 win in week 14. Having Andre Johnson back is big not only for Yates but for the ground game as well. The Bengals will have to play the Texans a little different this time with him back than they did the first time.

The Bengals will have to deal with a Texans defense that finished second in the NFL and could be one of the loudest Texans crowds of the season. If the Texans get an early lead it will be nearly impossible for QB Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense to make calls or audible.

Texans 24-17