by MIKE MELTSER, SportsRadio 610By Mike Meltser
  • That was a very workmanlike and methodical win for the Texans against the Titans today. Once Quintin Demps scooped up the Antonio Andrews fumble and Alfred Blue forced Harry Douglas to fumble on special teams, it felt like Tennessee was dead, and they were.
  • At some point this week, and I’m guessing it’s Monday, Bill O’Brien is going to announce that Brian Hoyer is returning, and will start against the Jaguars in Week 17. Knowing how things operate, there will be some vocal fans against this move. I think Brandon Weeden played fine Sunday, especially in the 2 touchdown drives that ended in his own TD run, and a DeAndre Hopkins 15 yard receiving TD.
  • Here’s the thing: the Texans were spotted a 10-zip lead. The defense has allowed 6 points in the last 6 quarters combined. Many factors go into winning, but the reason that Houston beat both Indianapolis and Tennessee is the defense. They’ve been stifling, and just teed off on the Titans in the 2 meetings this season. Weeden doesn’t know the entire offense, and O’Brien and George Godsey weren’t running BJ Daniels out there just for giggles.
  • I’m a little bit surprised at the timing of JB Bickerstaff’s riot act on the Rockets. While Saturday night’s loss was frustrating, the team is playing better basketball overall. The Pelicans have had a miserable season, but they’re obviously talented, and Houston lost a toss-up game. This isn’t to say that I disagree with the substance of Bickerstaff’s point (I don’t). I’m assuming that everyone will say that Bickerstaff is mainly referring to James Harden’s focus, but I do wonder if there are any other issues he may be frustrated by. Off the top of my head, this could include Terrence Jones and Donatas Motiejunas being in contract years, the team figuring out how to best use Ty Lawson, and the Dwight Howard rumors.
  • 5 games is too many to have for the NBA on Christmas Day. They should limit it to three. Give me a tripleheader with 2 games on ABC, and the last on ESPN. I think the early game and the late game get buried.
  • On a related note, I will defend the Rockets to a slight extent. I think teams that play on Christmas Day shouldn’t have to play the next day. Yes, I’m aware that the Pelicans played on Christmas, and 10 total teams played. This is why my 3-game idea rules.
  • It was unfortunate that the Dolphins couldn’t fully clinch the AFC South for the Texans on Sunday, falling to the Colts 18-12. That goal line series to end the game was a rough one, especially the snap on 4th and goal. You can’t have the timing of the snap off, after Indianapolis called timeout before that play.
  • Having said that, the odds of Indy winning the division are very, very remote. Even if the Colts win and the Texans lose next weekend, Indianapolis needs a variety of games to go in its favor, including long shots like the Patriots losing to the Dolphins. I know that New England has struggled in Miami in the past, but they’re playing for home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
  • Let’s just go ahead and assume that the Patriots did, as they say, intend to kick off to start overtime against the Jets. In a vacuum, I don’t have a massive philosophical issue with the decision. They don’t play NFL games in vacuums, so let’s examine this one. The weather was fairly mild in New Jersey, with the wind not really playing a factor in this one. The Jets had been stymied for most of the 4th quarter by the Patriots defense. I don’t think it’s an egregious decision, but I do disagree with it. Tom Brady brought his team back late, converting 2 massive 4th downs against the Jets’ defense. To me, you have to give him another chance to kill off the Jets with a TD.
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick had 3 more passing TDs on Sunday, and he tied Vinny Testaverde’s franchise record for passing TDs in a season with 29. As it relates to Houston, here’s my two cents: I think both the Texans and Fitzpatrick were better off parting ways after 2014. O’Brien got/is getting a chance to see his offense operate with Hoyer, who has full knowledge of the system. Fitzpatrick has reunited with OC Chan Gailey, and frankly has way better weapons with the Jets.
  • I believe that both of these are true: O’Brien is very good at maximizing what he has at QB, and that Fitzpatrick is still better off in New York. O’Brien can do a lot in terms of coaching and scheme, but he can’t replicate the talent of Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Chris Ivory. The Jets have one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL, and their size helps out Fitzpatrick tremendously. If you combined the offenses and picked squads, DeAndre Hopkins would be the best player, but the Jets may have the next 5-6 picks.
  • Losing to the Ravens is a bitter pill to swallow for the Steelers. Now Pittsburgh needs to win next weekend and get some help to get in. I’d be curious to see how many NFL fans could name a single skill position player that Ryan Mallett played with on Sunday afternoon.
  • The fact that Mallett started a game in Week 16, in the 2015 NFL, is a bit amazing. Credit to him for a solid performance against the Steelers.
  • In light of all that, I don’t think Sunday was a bad day for Patriots fans. That loss to the Jets may have been a death blow to the Steelers’ playoff chances. Now, NE needs one win to clinch home field. Here’s the rest of the AFC: Bengals (Andy Dalton injury questions), Broncos (2 straight awful losses, shaky Brock Osweiler play), Texans (the Pats won’t fear them, no offense), Chiefs (dangerous), Jets (a bit dangerous, having beaten the Pats once and playing them competitively once before). This is the NFL, but that’s a fairly manageable situation.
  • I haven’t been a big fan of Kirk Cousins, but he played very well in leading the Redskins to a division-clinching win over the Eagles on Saturday night. Props.
  • Same for Case Keenum, who helped the Rams to a win against the scorching-hot Seahawks in Seattle. That one was more about the Rams’ defense and Todd Gurley, but Keenum beat Richard Sherman for a TD to Kenny Britt.
  • Julio Jones’s 70 yard touchdown reception against the Panthers may have been the play of the day. Down by 3, that completely turned that football game around, and it was a 50-50 ball the whole way. I’ve been very down on the Falcons as a team over the last 2 months (who hasn’t), but that was a tremendous job to end Carolina’s unbeaten season.

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