Houston Texans 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is just days away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Houston Texans 2018 NFL Draft profile.


The Houston Texans started off the 2017 season very exciting. They may have been 3-4 through their first seven games, but rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson was definitely something special to watch for Texans fans.

Then things began to crash and burn for the Texans from there. Watson tore his ACL in practice and missed the rest of the season. The Texans went 1-8 in their last nine games without Watson to finish the years with a 4-12 record.

Overall, the Texans offense finished 20th in total yards, 17th in points, 21st in passing yards and 14th in rushing yards. Keep in mind that Tom Savage was the starting quarterback for over half the season. Lamar Miller took the majority of the snaps at running back, finishing with 888 yards and three touchdowns in his second season in Houston.

Houston Texans 2018 NFL Draft profile

Watson showed a lot of promise in the seven games he played. (Photo by Karen Warren, Houston Chronicle)

The defense, which ranked third in the NFL in 2015, really took a dive last season. Houston finished 20th in yards allowed while allowing the most points. The Texans also finished 13th in rushing yards allowed, 24th in passing yards allowed, 23rd in sacks, 20th in interceptions and 27th in passes defended. The defense definitely missed J.J. Watt.

Watt will hopefully be back at full strength. Watt has struggled to stay healthy, playing in just eight games in the last two seasons combined. Watt had 38 total sacks in 2014 and 2015 when he was fully healthy, leading one of the top defenses in the NFL. The Texans could really use that in their pass rush.

Things are really looking up offensively for the Texans in 2018. It appears the Texans have found their franchise quarterback in Watson, who will be back at full strength. Watson threw 19 touchdown passes in just seven games. Imagine how many he can throw in a full season, especially since he has one of the best wide receiver duos in the league to throw to in DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.

It is a wonder head coach Bill O’Brien has had this much success already in his time in Houston. In four years, O’Brien has gone through nine different starting quarterbacks, but has still won 31 games and made two postseason appearances.

The Texans have lacked a good quarterback since joining the NFL in 2002. Things are looking up for this franchise.

Picks and needs

The Texans have eight picks in this draft, but none are in the first or second round. Both were traded to the Browns.

However, they have three picks in the third round. The Texans will have to make those picks count.

First round (0 picks):

Second round (0):

Third round (3): 68, 80, 98

Fourth round (1): 103

Fifth round (0):

Sixth round (3): 177, 211, 214

Seventh round (1): 222

Offensive needs:

Offensive line – Houston definitely needs to provide protection for a young, talented quarterback like Watson. Trading Duane Brown last year leaves a huge hole at left tackle. However, it is going to be tough to find a great replacement for him in the third round.

Defensive needs:

Defensive back – This defense allowed more points than anyone in the NFL last season and a lot of it had to do with the pass defense, which allowed the second most passing touchdowns. In a pass-first NFL, the Texans will need to put a stop to all the damage that was done to them through the air.

Defensive line – The run defense ranked in the middle of the pack, but not the pass rush. With Watt unable to stay healthy for the past two seasons, Houston should look for a potential replacement or at least some depth on the line.


Here is a list of players the Texans can realistically target with their first three picks.

Third round:

Pick No. 68: Joseph Noteboom, OT, TCU

Houston Texans 2018 NFL Draft profile

Noteboom might be the best available tackle at pick 68. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Noteboom is not the ideal replacement for Brown, but he might be the best available tackle at pick 68. Noteboom is durable, as he has not missed a game since redshirting in 2013.

Noteboom has nice size at 6-foot-5, 319 pounds with room to build. He is very athletic, shows good technique and uses his hands well. He flashed a lot of promise at the NFL combine and Senior Bowl as well.

Noteboom needs to be more consistent moving forward though. He may not be able to replace Brown right away, but could develop into a solid starter in a few years.

Pick No. 80: Duke Dawson, CB, Florida

Dawson just capped off his career at Florida with a great senior season. Dawson started every game and collected 34 tackles, nine pass breakups and a team-high four interceptions. He also earned All-SEC honors for his efforts. He definitely impressed after playing alongside some great defensive backs in Teez Tabor and Quincy Wilson in his first few seasons.

Dawson plays well in man and zone coverage, and his strong build helps him wear down receivers. His 4.46 40-time is respectable, and his intelligence is also a plus. Dawson will provide much-needed help for the Texans’ secondary.

Pick No. 98: Jalyn Holmes, DE, Ohio State

With Watt’s long-term health in question, the Texans can take Holmes to be a potential replacement, or at least provide depth to the line.

The Buckeyes were rich in talent on the defensive line last year with players like Nick Bosa, Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard, and Holmes is no exception. The 6-foot-5, 283 pounder has experience playing all over the line as well. He shows potential to be a solid bull rusher in the NFL with his length and power and could continue to improve his strength at the next level.


The Texans do not have much to work within this draft. However, three picks in the third round can provide depth for the team at best. With Watson fully healthy, things are looking better for the Texans in 2018.

That concludes our 2018 NFL Draftmas! Be sure to tune in for our final mock draft on Wednesday and the official draft on Thursday!


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Raptors Wizards preview

Raptors vs. Wizards series preview

The NBA postseason is finally here, with plenty of intriguing matchups.

In the Eastern Conference, the top-seeded Toronto Raptors will be taking on the eighth-seeded Washington Wizards. The Raptors will be looking to prove to the doubters that they are indeed a top-tier team in the league, while the Wizards will be looking to pull off a big upset.

Here is a look at this first-round playoff matchup.

Regular season summary


For the first time in team history, the Raptors are a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. The Raptors finished the season 59-23 as one of the most balanced teams in the NBA.

The team was led by the duo of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. DeRozan averaged 23 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. Lowry averaged 16.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. Jonas Valanciunas, Serge Ibaka and CJ Miles also contributed at least 10 points per game.

Raptors Wizards preview

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are the leaders in Toronto. (Photo by Getty Images)

Offensively, the Raptors finished fourth in points, with 111.7 points per game. They shot the ball efficiently too, finishing seventh in field goal percentage at 47.2 percent. Unlike most of the league’s playoff teams, Toronto scores a lot of its points in the paint as they finished sixth at 48.6 per game. All that time spent inside has also helped them averaged 17.3 made free throws per game, good for ninth in the league.

Toronto also handles the ball very well. They finished sixth in assists and had the sixth fewest turnovers, which put them fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio.

One area they could improve on is 3-point shooting, as they rank 18th at 35.8 percent. It is not terrible, but one of the lower percentages among playoff teams.

Defensively, the Raptors allowed the sixth fewest points per game. They were also fifth in opponent field goal percentage and 11th in opponent 3-point percentage. They rank second in blocks too.

Toronto’s bench also was a major contributor to its success. The bench ranked fifth in points, fourth in field goal percentage, fourth in rebounds, second in assists, second in blocks and first in steals.

It is safe to say the Raptors are one of the more well-rounded teams in the NBA right now.


The Wizards have now made the postseason in four of the last five seasons.

Like Toronto, Washington is led by its backcourt. John Wall missed half the season due to injuries, but still managed to average 19.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 9.6 assists per game. Wall’s absence also played a role in the Wizards’ low seed.

Bradley Beal was the main man in Wall’s absence, averaging 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. Otto Porter Jr., Kelly Oubre Jr. and Markieff Morris each contributed over 10 points per game as well.

Raptors Wizards preview

Bradley Beal was the top scorer on the Wizards this season. (Photo by Getty Images)

Offensively, the Wizards were a bit above average, ranking 13th in points per game and 11th in field goal percentage. But they finished fourth in 3-point percentage at 37.5 percent. They also pass well as they finished fourth in assists.

Defensively, the Wizards were not bad. They ranked 15th in opponent points, 15th in opponent field goal percentage, sixth in opponent 3-point percentage and 10th in steals. However, they could improve their defense inside. They rank 21st in rebounds, 19th in points allowed in the paint, 21st in opponent second-chance points and 22nd in blocks. If they want to win some games in the playoffs, they will need to play better defense inside and prevent opponents from getting multiple chances to score.

Washington’s bench is also about average, ranking 16th in points, 12th in field goal percentage, 17th in rebounds and 20th in assists.

Breakdown and predictions


The main matchup fans will be watching is between the stars in the backcourt. DeRozan and Lowry against Wall and Beal will definitely be interesting to see.

Things get interesting elsewhere. The Wizards shoot the three better than Toronto, but Toronto does a lot of scoring inside. Toronto’s defense does fairly well at defending 3-pointers, but Washington’s defense does not play well inside.

Toronto’s bench also overmatches Washington’s. Washington’s starters are going to have to put in a lot more work than Toronto’s starters if they want to stay in the game.


Toronto and Washington tied in the regular season matchups at 2-2, but do not expect this series to be that close.

Toronto is just too good on both sides of the floor, and their bench can also take care of business. Washington will not be able to defend the Raptors inside. Washington has made it out of the first round in its last three postseason appearances, but not this season.

Having Wall back will be a nice boost for Washington and they may be able to take a game from Toronto, but this series belongs to the Raptors.

Raptors in five


Featured image by Getty Images

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Cavaliers Pacers preview

Cavaliers vs. Pacers series preview

The NBA playoffs begin today with many intriguing matchups. With many surprise teams and players this season, it seems possible that the NBA Finals will not be between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors for a fourth straight season.

One of those surprising teams is the Indiana Pacers, who had their best year since the 2013-14 season. They are led by one of the league’s most surprising players, Victor Oladipo, who will most likely win the NBA’s Most Improve Player Award.

The Cavs dealt with a lot of drama this season, but it appears they are ready to go after finishing the season 11-3. LeBron James will look to remain undefeated in the first round of the playoffs.

Both these teams met in the first round of the playoffs last season, with the Cavs coming out on top in a sweep. Let’s take a look at how both of these teams matchup this season.

Regular season summary


A lot of people have been freaking out about the Cavs this season, even though they only lost one more game this season than last season.

One of the main differences from last season to this season is that the conference got better. The Toronto Raptors finished at the top, followed by the Boston Celtics and most surprisingly, the Philadelphia 76ers. After a loss to the Pacers on March 13, the Sixers were sitting at 36-30. However, a franchise record of 16 straight wins, including one over Cleveland, pushed them ahead of the Cavs to the third seed.

The second difference with the Cavs from last season to this season is defense. The defense ranked 20th last season, which isn’t that impressive, but it was better than its 26th ranking this season.

Teams shoot 47.4 percent from the field against the Cavs, which is the third highest in the NBA, and 36.8 percent from three, which is the ninth highest. They also finished just 24th in steals, 28th in blocks and 27th in forced turnovers. Most recently, the Cavs have allowed 110 and 109 to the Knicks, 132 to the 76ers and 115 to Washington. That is not the kind of defense you want to bring to the playoffs.

What helped the Cavs get by this season was their fifth-ranked offense, which averaged 110.9 points per game. They are also one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA as they shoot 37.2 percent from deep, good for sixth in the league. They share the ball fairly well too, ranking 12th in assists.

Cavaliers Pacers preview

James has never lost a first-round series in the playoffs. (Photo by David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

What also gives Cavs fans hope is the fact their team has the league’s best player, LeBron James. James averaged 27.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 36.7 percent from three. Keep in mind that James is 33 years old and in his 15th season. This is also the first time in his career he has played all 82 games and he led the NBA in minutes played, so he has to be feeling pretty good going into this postseason. Oh, and James is 12-0 in the first round of the playoffs.

James has a very nice supporting cast around him as well. Kevin Love has been his main sidekick this season, averaging 17.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game while shooting 41.5 percent from three.

Jordan Clarkson, Jeff Green and Rodney Hood have also averaged over 10 points per game each. Clarkson and Hood were acquired before the trade deadline along with George Hill and Larry Nance Jr., who have also performed well with the Cavs.

The Cavs’ bench was very productive, finishing sixth in points per game, third in field goal percentage and second in 3-point percentage. Even if the bench struggles, James has proven in the playoffs that he can put the team on his back.

No one questions the Cavs offense. It is the defense that has held them back this season. They will need to improve defensively if they want to make another Finals run.


Who would have thought we would be seeing the Pacers in the playoffs? After they traded away Paul George, it seemed the Pacers were tanking and going to rebuild mode.

However, the Pacers won six more games than they did last season to earn the fifth seed in the East. Indiana has now made the playoffs three straight seasons and seven times in the last eight seasons.

The player the Pacers got in return for George, Victor Oladipo, has been the main reason for success on the team. Oladipo is averaging 23.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals per game, all career highs. He also shot 47.7 from the field and 37.1 percent from the 3-point line, also both career highs.

Cavaliers Pacers preview

Oladipo has been the biggest surprise in the NBA this season. (Photo by Getty Images)

As a team, Indiana was average offensively, finishing in the middle of the pack with 105.6 points per game. However, they were very efficient, shooting 47.2 percent from the field, good for sixth in the league. They also shoot well from three, finishing eighth in the league at 36.9 percent. They know how to take care of the ball too as they have the fifth fewest turnovers in the league.

One area they could improve on offensively is sharing the ball. They ranked 23rd in assists. Making extra passes to get better shots would be helpful, but they already shoot the ball pretty efficiently as is.

Unlike the Cavs, the Pacers play pretty good defense. They ranked ninth in opponent points, fifth in opponent 3-point percentage, third in steals and third in forced turnovers. They are also very good at turning those turnovers into points as they rank second in points off turnovers.

Surrounding Oladipo is Myles Turner, Darren Collison, Bojan Bogdanovic, Thaddeus Young and Domantas Sabonis. All of those guys average over 10 points per game. Turner was also third in the NBA in blocks per game at 1.82. 

The bench has not contributed as many points as they rank 22nd in the league in that category. But that is mostly because the Pacers’ starters play the seventh most minutes in the league. The bench, like the team overall, has been efficient shooting the ball though, finishing eighth in field goal percentage.

The Pacers are a pretty balanced team. They are efficient on offense and play great team defense. The defense is going to have its hands full though as it will be taking on some of the NBA’s top offenses if they keep advancing. It might help them out offensively to move the ball around a bit more too.

Breakdown and predictions


Offensively, the Cavs got the Pacers beat. The Cavs finished ahead in all the main offensive categories and have the league’s best offensive player in James. The Cavs’ bench also has the edge on the Pacers’ bench.

Neither team rebounds the ball very well, so that will be something to keep an eye on. However, Indiana averaged a bit more offensive rebounds and second-chance points than Cleveland in the regular season. If they are going to keep up with Cleveland’s offense, they will need to make every offensive opportunity count.

The Pacers do have the Cavs beaten defensively. If the Pacers want any chance of winning this series, they must stop either James or the Cavs from shooting threes. They will also need to put their ability to steal the ball and score on turnovers to good use.

Cleveland has a bit more star power on their roster than Indiana too, as well as the league’s best player. James averaged 28.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 10.3 assists, 2.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game against Indiana this season. In the first-round series between the Cavs and Pacers last season, James averaged 32.8 points, 9.8 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks per game. It is safe to say Indiana will not be stopping James in this series.


Indiana may have gone 3-1 against the Cavs in the regular season, but everybody knows the regular season is meaningless in the playoffs.

It is also very tough to bet against LeBron James in the playoffs. James’ career averages in the playoffs are 28.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 6.9 assists and is also 12-0 in the first round.

Indiana lacks star power other than Oladipo. Despite the Cavs’ defensive struggles, the offense should be good enough to get out of the first round. Indiana will most likely be exiting in the first round for a third straight season until they can bring more stars to town. However, Indiana’s defense is good enough to steal one game and avoid a sweep like last season.

Cavaliers in five


Featured image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile

The 2018 NFL Draft is a few weeks away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile.


The Carolina Panthers enjoyed a successful 2017 season after a disappointing 2016 season in which they missed the playoffs. This past season, Carolina finished 11-5 and clinched a Wild Card berth in the competitive NFC South.

However, Carolina lost its first-round matchup to the division rival New Orleans Saints. Carolina failed to get a win in all three matchups with New Orleans.

Panthers fans still had a lot to be excited about. Carolina’s offense finished fourth in rushing yards and 12th in points.

The defense was also impressive. The Panthers ranked seventh in total defense, 11th in points allowed, third in rush defense and third in sacks. The defense was once again led by star linebacker Luke Kuechly, who finished 10th in the NFL in tackles. The pass rush was led by Mario Addison and Julius Peppers, who both finished the season with 11 sacks each.

There was still room for improvement of course, mostly in the passing game on both sides of the ball. The offense ranked 18th in passing touchdowns and just 28th in passing yards. The defense ranked 18th in passing yards allowed, 22nd in passing touchdowns allowed, 24th in interceptions and 30th in passes defended.

Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Christian McCaffrey is expected to take a big step forward in 2018. (Photo by Getty Images)

The passing game probably will not change much as Carolina’s identity is in the running game. Even quarterback Cam Newton is one of the biggest contributors for the Panthers on the ground. Carolina did add Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright to its receiving group, but they are more of the same receivers Carolina already has. 

With the release of Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey will now be the main back in Carolina. In his rookie season, the eighth overall pick had 1,306 all-purpose yards, which ranked 18th in the NFL. McCaffrey’s production should take a big step forward in the 2018 season.

Carolina did lose a couple key pieces this offseason, most notably being All-Pro guard Andrew Norwell. They did sign former Vikings guard Jeremiah Sirles, but he is expected to add more depth to the line rather than be a replacement for Norwell.

Defensive tackle Star Lotulelei also left the team, but the Panthers got an upgrade with Pro Bowler Dontari Poe. Poe and fellow Pro Bowler Kawann Short will be a very scary combo inside. Carolina also re-signed Peppers to further boost the defensive line.

The team also brought in defensive backs Ross Cockrell and Da’Norris Searcy to fill in for Daryl Worely, who was traded, and Kurt Coleman, who was released. Those guys are not ideal replacements, but they should not be any worse than the previous guys. Kicker Graham Gano will also be sticking around.

Carolina should be back in the playoffs this season. They can move further than the Wild Card round by addressing some of their biggest needs in the draft.

Picks and needs

Carolina has eight picks in this draft, including four in the first three rounds.

First round (1 pick): 24

Second round (1): 55

Third round (2): 85, 88

Fourth round (0):

Fifth round (1): 161

Sixth round (1): 197

Seventh round (2): 234, 242

Offensive needs:

Offensive line – The Panthers have a big hole to fill on the offensive line after losing Norwell. If this unit still plans on opening up holes for the running backs and providing protection for Newton, they need to address this need early in the draft.

Wide receiver – Carolina has been getting by with average receivers for a while now, and they actually played better without Kelvin Benjamin. Curtis Samuel should see more involvement in the offense, but adding another dependable target in the middle rounds would not be a bad idea.

Running back – After releasing Stewart, the Panthers are in need of a big back to compliment McCaffrey. This is also something that can be addressed later in the draft or even free agency.

Defensive needs:

Defensive back – Carolina is still looking for a leader in the backfield after Josh Norman left. Carolina’s secondary is the weak link on defense. They need to find a playmaker that can make life more difficult for opposing receivers.

Defensive end – With Charles Johnson gone and Julius Peppers’ days in the NFL numbered, the defensive line is going to need a boost on the edge in order to keep putting pressure on the quarterback.


First round:

Pick No. 24: Isaiah Wynn, OG, Georgia

Carolina Panthers 2018 NFL Draft profile

Isaiah Wynn is just what the Panthers need. (Photo by Getty Images)

Isaiah Wynn will most likely be the best guard available at pick 24, and that is who the Panthers should take first.

Wynn has a bright future in the NFL and should be able to start right away. The 6-foot-3, 313 pound former Bulldog has spent time at guard and tackle during his time in college. He helped open holes for star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and was a big part of why the running game at Georgia was so successful. He should continue to do the same for McCaffrey.

Wynn is both powerful and mobile and has the versatility to move around the line if necessary. He has the strength and quickness to effectively block and open holes in the NFL. Wynn can be a Pro Bowler in this league and would fill in nicely for Norwell.

Second round:

Pick No. 55: Jessie Bates, S, Wake Forest 

Bates only played two years in college, but showed plenty of potential in those seasons. He totaled 177 tackles, 10 defended passes, six interceptions and two touchdowns in 24 games with the Demon Deacons.

Bates stands 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, but plays like he is bigger. He can play both man and zone coverage and is not afraid to make a hit. He could develop into the ball hawk the Panthers need in the secondary.

Third round: 

Pick No. 85: Antonio Callaway, WR, Florida

Callaway has the talent to be drafted sooner, but his issues off the field and maturity will cause him to drop to the middle rounds.

A credit card fraud scandal led to Callaway being suspended the entire 2017 season. However, he has proven in his first two seasons that he can compete. Callaway totaled 89 catches for 1,399 yards and seven touchdowns with the Gators. He was also effective on special teams with three touchdowns as a returner.

Callaway is fast with a 4.41 40-yard dash, the fourth fastest among receivers in this draft. The 5-foot-11, 197 pound speedster runs routes well and could be very effective as a slot receiver.

Callaway is a high-risk, high-reward pick, but the risk goes down as the rounds go on in the draft. Carolina will have to decide if Callaway is worth the risk, but the potential is there.


Pick No. 88: Chad Thomas, DE, Miami

Thomas is a big man at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds. His size and athleticism are just what any NFL team would want in a defensive lineman.

Last season in Miami, Thomas had 41 tackles, 12.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks. He can play in odd and even fronts, and even slide out as a linebacker from time to time.

Any team that takes Thomas would be picking him more for his potential than his production. However, a defensive coach like Ron Rivera and stars like Peppers should be able to bring the best out of Thomas.


Carolina can do a lot in this draft to put themselves in a better position to win in the playoffs. The guard position is the most pressing need and needs to be addressed in the first round, followed by defensive back. After that, they should focus on picking the best players available for their other needs.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for the Tennessee Titans 2018 NFL Draft profile.


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Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Why teams should think twice about drafting Baker Mayfield

The NFL playoffs begin this weekend. However, the majority of NFL fans are now focused on the NFL draft.

This draft is loaded with quarterback prospects. Some of the top talent includes Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen.

There has also been a lot of NFL talk about Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield. Some people think he can be successful in the NFL. Others see him as a bust.

There are plenty of reasons to avoid drafting Mayfield, at least early on. Here is a list reasons why NFL teams should think twice before taking a chance on the former Oklahoma Sooner quarterback.

The Big 12 Conference

NFL quarterbacks come from all over the country. Case Keenum went to Houston. Carson Wentz went to North Dakota State. Ben Roethlisberger went to Miami, OH.

Don’t forget about the big schools either. Tom Brady went to Michigan. Aaron Rodgers went to California. Matthew Stafford went to Georgia.

Mayfield joins a nice list of dominating Oklahoma quarterbacks. Jason White and Sam Bradford also won Heismans during their time with the Sooners. But there is something disturbing about the quarterbacks the Big 12 has been putting in the NFL.

Mayfield joins the list of dominant Big 12 quarterbacks. (Photo by Associated Press)

Since 2000, 22 Big 12 quarterbacks have been drafted. None of them have panned out as dependable starting quarterbacks. The most notable names to come from the Big 12 include Chris Simms, Vince Young, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradord, Colt McCoy, Blaine Gabbert, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill, Brandon Weeden and Geno Smith.

Some of these guys showed promise early on, but none of them panned out. Simms never started more than 10 games in a season and only played five seasons in the NFL. Young started off nice by bringing the Titans to the postseason a couple times, but ended up busting as well. The Dolphins have only finished over .500 once under Tannehill. Griffin’s knees didn’t survive. Bradford has also spent plenty of time on the sidelines due to injury. Yes, a few of these guys started off nice, but didn’t end well.

Some of these guys put up big numbers in college and even stayed healthy in the NFL. They just were ineffective in the pros. Smith, Weeden, Freeman, McCoy and Gabbert all failed to deliver.

There was no primary starting quarterback from the Big 12 this season. Why does the conference struggle to put out big-time NFL quarterbacks?

The Big 12 style of play is all run and gun. The Big 12 is known for their high scoring games with almost no defense. Oklahoma has had conference wins that ended with scores like 49-41 over Baylor, 42-35 over Kansas State, 62-52 over Oklahoma State and 59-31 over West Virginia.

Oklahoma State was the Big 12’s second best offense and put up scores like 41-34 over Texas Tech, 50-39 over West Virginia and 49-42 over Iowa State. They are scoring a lot of points, but they are also giving up a bunch.

The Big 12’s quarterbacks have inflated stats. You can’t take them seriously because they aren’t playing against any defenses. It may not be fair to say an NFL quarterback can never come from the Big 12, but it’s not that ridiculous of a statement. Times change and quarterbacks can come from even the smallest of conferences. With the Big 12’s current style of play, don’t expect any star quarterback coming from the conference anytime soon.

Size and attitude

One of the bigger knocks on Mayfield is his size. ESPN lists him at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds. Scouts and fans always like a big quarterback.

Yes, there are smaller quarterbacks that start in the NFL. That list includes Drew Brees, Russell Wilson and Tyrod Taylor. There have been smaller quarterbacks in the past that have also succeeded. Don’t rule out a guy just because of size.

Baker Mayfield NFL Draft

Mayfield has issued a few apologies this season after receiving criticism for his antics on the field. (Photo by Getty Images)

The thing about Mayfield is that he reminds people more of Johnny Manziel than Drew Brees. Both Manziel and Mayfield won Heisman Trophies, completed around 70 percent of their passes, were athletic and mobile and made fans hate them with their antics on the field.

Mayfield has already received criticism for talking trash with his opponents, grabbing his crotch and planting an Oklahoma flag on Ohio State’s logo. Manziel received criticism for things mostly off the field like partying, gambling and not working hard.

Do NFL teams want a quarterback that has been labeled as a punk by some? If you look at the NFL’s current starting quarterbacks, none of them have an attitude like Mayfield. The closest guys you could argue would be Cam Newton and Jay Cutler.

Newton has been criticized for a poor attitude before, but not many would call him a punk. The same goes for Cutler. He is known more for whining than anything else.

Mayfield’s personality does not fit the NFL quarterback mold. It is something teams should consider before drafting him.

Final verdict

Former Heisman Trophy winner and Oklahoma Sooner Jason White, along with Chase Daniel from Missouri and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech are notable Big 12 quarterbacks this century to go undrafted. Mayfield probably won’t go undrafted, but teams should proceed with caution.

Taking Mayfield in the first round is risky. Teams interested in Mayfield should wait until the middle rounds to take him. No team should sweat over another team taking Mayfield in the first round. Waiting gives teams more of a low risk high reward.


Featured image by Getty Images

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NFL Wild Card Weekend

What are the odds of a Wild Card winning the Super Bowl?

NFL postseason action kicks off Saturday with Wild Card weekend. The Tennessee Titans will be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs, and the Atlanta Falcons will face off against the Los Angeles Rams.

On Sunday, fans will get to see two more matchups between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars and the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.

There are plenty of storylines for each game. Will Alex Smith be focused after being benched for Patrick Mahomes last week? Will the Rams’ high-powered offense continue to do damage? How will the Bills perform in their first postseason appearance since 1999? Will the Panthers finally get a win against the Saints this season?

It is definitely going to be an exciting weekend. Maybe the Wild Card teams will pull out a win or two.

A bigger question to ask is what are the odds of one of the Wild Card teams winning the Super Bowl? Or even making it?

The history

Not to disappoint fans of the Wild Cards, but the odds of one of them getting in or even winning it all aren’t great.

Overall, 10 Wild Card teams have played in a Super Bowl since the Wild Card was born in 1970. The first Wild Card team to make a Super Bowl was the Dallas Cowboys in 1975. They ended up losing 21-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X.



Wild Cards in the Super Bowl


Dallas Cowboys 1975 (Super Bowl X) Lost to Pittsburgh Steelers 21-17
Oakland Raiders 1980 (Super Bowl XV) Defeated Philadelphia Eagles 27-10
New England Patriots 1985 (Super Bowl XX) Lost to Chicago Bears 46-10)
Buffalo Bills 1992 (Super Bowl XXVII) Lost to Dallas Cowboys 52-17
Denver Broncos 1997 (Super Bowl XXXII) Defeated Green Bay Packers 31-24
Tennessee Titans 1999 (Super Bowl XXXIV) Lost to St. Louis Rams 23-16
Baltimore Ravens 2000 (Super Bowl XXXV) Defeated New York Giants 34-7
Pittsburgh Steelers 2005 (Super Bowl XL) Defeated Seattle Seahawks 21-10
New York Giants 2007 (Super Bowl XLII) Defeated New England Patriots 17-14
Green Bay Packers 2010 (Super Bowl XLV) Defeated Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25

It is also noteworthy to include the Kansas City Chiefs in this talk. In 1969, they won the AFL as a Wild Card and then defeated the NFL champion Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

It is not impossible for a Wild Card to make the Super Bowl, or even win it. However, the chances are slim. There has been a Wild Card in 20.8 percent of Super Bowls since the Wild Card entered the postseason. They have also won just 12.5 percent of Super Bowls. When a Wild Card makes it, they have won 60 percent of the time, including the last four times.

What it takes to win

Is there much correlation between all the Wild Card Super Bowl winners? It is tough to find much.

NFL Wild Card Weekend

Can Cam Newton bring the Panthers back to the Super Bowl? (Photo by Winslow Townson/Associated Press)

One thing all Wild Card Super Bowl teams have in common is that they all won at least 10 games during the regular season. Four of them won 11 games, two of them won 12 games, and one of them even won 13.

Based on that, most of the Wild Cards that make the Super Bowl are pretty dominant teams. There are division winners that win 10 games. Teams are rarely going to be a Wild Card if they have 12 wins.

If fans are confident enough to bet on a Wild Card winning it all, they should look to the NFC. Only the Panthers and Falcons have double-digit wins. Sorry Bills and Titans fans, history is just not on your side.

Defense is something else that almost all the Wild Cards had in common. Seven out of the 10 ranked in the top 10 in yards allowed per game. Seven out of the 10 also ranked in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Once again, the Panthers and Falcons are the only two Wild Cards that rank in the top 10 in yards allowed per game, and the Falcons are the only one that ranks in the top 10 in points allowed per game.

Will we see a Wild Card this year?

Let’s look at some history again. There was one Wild Card in the Super Bowl in the 1970s, two in the 1980s, three in the 1990s, three in the 2000s and one so far in the 2010s. Does that mean a Wild Card is due to appear soon since there has only been one so far this decade?

NFL Wild Card Weekend

The Falcons are looking for redemption from last year’s epic Super Bowl collapse. (Photo by Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports)

Actually, any team with a road playoff game is due to win soon. Since 2012, no team that has played a road playoff game has made it to the Super Bowl. The last time it happened was when the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens faced each other, with both winning games on the road.

It is very tough to say. The NFL is always unpredictable. Nobody picked the Jaguars or Rams would make the playoffs this year.

Going on history, it appears the Falcons have the best chance out of all the Wild Cards to make it. However, they just played in the big game last year and making back-to-back Super Bowls is very difficult. Also, each matchup and season is different. Comparing to the past is not always the best way to predict winners, but it does give us an idea of how difficult it is for a Wild Card to win on the big stage.

Either way, get ready. The postseason should be just as exciting as always.


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Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

Cleveland needs to keep the Brooklyn pick

It is safe to say that the Cleveland Cavaliers have silenced all their haters after tying a franchise record with 13 straight wins. That puts the Cavs at 18-7 and second place in the Eastern Conference.

It definitely took a while for the Cavs to get things figured out. Their struggles early in the season were linked to poor defense and chemistry. This should have been expected considering the Cavs are the oldest team in the NBA and have so many new faces.

Through the first 12 games of the season, Cleveland was allowing an atrocious 114.2 points per game. During this winning streak, they have allowed 101.5. Overall, the team is averaging 107.6 per game, which ranks 21st in the league. It is not the best, but it is an improvement from where they started.

Oh, and the Cavs have accomplished all this without Isaiah Thomas and Tristan Thompson. Imagine how good this team will be once they return to the court.

There is not much doubt that the Cavs will be back in the Finals for their fourth straight season. However, there is also not much doubt that they will be facing the Golden State Warriors for the fourth straight time, and losing to them once again.

The Cavs aren’t getting any younger either. There have also been trade talks about the Cavs bringing in DeMarcus Cousins or DeAndre Jordan. But in order to do that, the Cavs would most definitely have to part ways with their first round pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets. Cousins and Jordan also are both free agents next season with Cousins being unrestricted and Jordan with a player option.

Sending off a potential No. 1 pick and possibly players like Thompson and Iman Shumpert for a player they might not be able to keep is not a smart move for a team like the Cavs. They need to start preparing for the future. Players like Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Channing Frye, Jeff Green, Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon and Iman Shumpert all could be gone next season.

Now not all of those players are really considered losses, but this team needs to add some young talent for the future. That is why instead of using the Brooklyn pick as a trade asset, the Cavs need to actually use it.

NBA Draft lottery

The NBA will have a new lottery system in place for the 2018 NBA draft. The new system has leveled the playing field for the league’s worst teams.

Cleveland Cavaliers NBA draft

The Cavs are not getting any younger. (Photo by STACY REVERE/GETTY)

Previously, the worst team had the greatest odds at the first overall pick. Now the worst three teams have the same odds at receiving the first pick.

As it stands right now, there are nine teams worse than the Brooklyn Nets. However, a handful of those teams should finish ahead of the Nets by the end of the season. Even if the Nets don’t finish as one of the three worst teams, the Nets could still end up with a high pick. Even with the previous lottery system, there were always teams winning higher picks than teams that were worse than them. The new system makes it even easier for those teams to get higher picks.

This class of rookies is stacked with talent with names like Jayson Tatum, Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen and Dennis Smith Jr. already looking great. This next class of rookies is going to be pretty good as well.

Top prospects

If you have not heard, Marvin Bagley is very good. The Duke freshman is the undisputed first overall pick for the 2018 NBA draft, and rightfully so. Bagley is averaging 21.9 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He is first in the NCAA in total points, second in total rebounds, second in double-doubles and is showing range with a 3-point percentage of 35. Bagley is going to be a beast in the NBA.

Even if the Cavs cannot get Bagley, there is still plenty of other talent. Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. was going to be battling Bagley as the NCAA’s top player, but an injury in his first game this season has sidelined him for the season. We all know how good Porter can be based on his film. His injury has not hurt him much in the latest mock drafts either.

Arizona freshman big Deandre Ayton is also looking like a stud early on. Ayton is averaging 19.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He has size at 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds and freakish offensive ability.

There is also Mohamed Bamba from Texas. He is not known for his offense yet, but his defense is amazing. The 7-footer has a 7-foot-9 wingspan and is averaging four blocks per game. He game is much like Tristan Thompson, also a former defensive stud at Texas.

Don’t forget about Miles Bridges either. Many expected the Michigan State sophomore to be in this year’s draft, but he returned to the Spartans instead for another big season. Bridges has been picking up where he left off so far. His season averages are not as high, but it is still early and from watching him you know he can be an NBA stud.

Keep the pick

The the current age of the Cavs, some may argue they should focus on winning now. However, with some of the team’s top players like Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, Jae Crowder, Tristan Thompson and most likely LeBron James returning to the team next season, why would they need to plan a massive rebuild?

The fact is, most of the Cavs’ stars are not that old. They can make the Finals in the next two seasons at least with their current roster. But if they don’t want to be left behind once all these players are finished, they need to start preparing for the future.

Yes, there is no guarantee Cleveland gets the top pick, or even a top three pick. But there is also no guarantee DeMarcus Cousins and DeAndre Jordan would stay either. What you can guarantee is that this next draft class is going to be loaded with talent, and the Cavs will have a top 10 pick to get one of those players.

This offseason, the Cavs need to focus on getting younger and keeping Isaiah Thomas on the roster. They can start by getting him anther great teammate to work with.


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Joey Votto

Joey Votto is baseball’s least-recognized star

With baseball’s sudden burst in power, some of the game’s best performers have seemed to slip through the cracks.

Yes, Giancarlo Stanton’s season was impressive. His 59 home runs are the most in baseball since Barry Bonds’ record-breaking 73 back in 2001. The MLB also broke the record for most total home runs in a season this year previously set in 2000.

41 players hit at least 30 home runs this season, which was the most since the 2000 season when 47 reached the mark. The Astros and Dodgers set the record for most total home runs in a World Series as well.

The MLB seems to have gained its power back after only 11 players reached 30 home runs back in 2014. It has captured fans’ attention and made baseball that much more entertaining.

The players this year have done something that hasn’t been done since the start of the century. It makes it easy to forget about players like Joey Votto, who quietly remains consistent.

The numbers

Joey Votto might be the most underrated superstar of the day. When you look at Votto’s numbers, it is hard to believe he has only won one MVP, one Gold Glove and been named an All-Star just five times. He still has not won a Silver Slugger either.

Votto is a career .313 hitter with 257 home runs and 830 RBIs. He also has an incredible .428 on-base percentage.

At .428, Votto ranks 10th all time in that category. The only player ahead of him that is not already in the Hall of Fame is Barry Bonds. Also, the next highest active player on the list is Miguel Cabrera at 68th with a .395 percentage. Votto is getting on base just as often as many all-time greats and more often than any of his peers. 

Perhaps the most impressive performance by Votto this season was when he reached base safely at least twice in 20 straight games, coming up just one game short of the record set by Ted Williams in 1948. Only two other players have done so in 20 straight games. That would be Barry Bonds in 2004 and Pete Rose in 1979.

Unappreciated and underrated

Votto is proving himself to be a future Hall of Famer. However, it is doubtful that many fans outside Cincinnati are aware of this.

Votto turned 34 this year and may have played his best season yet, or at least he believes so.

Joey Votto

Votto with his 2010 MVP award, one of the few honors he has received. (Photo by HCP Photo/Stephen Forsha)

“I wanted this to be my work of art,” Votto told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I felt like shrinking strikeouts, keeping the walks, competing on a daily basis, playing every day, improving my defense. I felt this was definitely the best year of my career.”

One common knock on Votto is his “lack of aggression at the plate” because he gets so many walks. But isn’t the point of baseball to score runs? And you score runs by getting men on base. This is about as silly as people bashing James Harden because of how many points he gets from shooting free throws. In basketball, you need to score points to win, and that is what Harden does.

Votto got those runs, finishing 10th in the MLB with 106. Also, here are some numbers to show Votto is a disciplined batter, rather than unaggressive.

Votto may be the disciplined hitter in the game. He swung at the fewest pitches outside the zone at 15.8 percent. Talk about patience. He waits for his pitch and then capitalizes off it. This also works the pitch count and makes pitchers work to get him out. In contrast, Votto swung at 71.4 percent of pitches in the zone, which was the 32nd highest.

Those numbers average out to a 41.9 swing percentage, which was one of the lowest in the league. Don’t question his aggressiveness based on this stat though. Aaron Judge’s swing percentage was even lower at 41.1 percent. Nobody questions Judge’s aggressiveness as he led the American League in home runs and the MLB in strikeouts.

What else is crazy is that Votto received the 14th most pitches in the strike zone, but still led the league in walks. Votto isn’t going to just swing at anythiing. He is going to wait on a pitch he can drive, and if not he will take that free pass to first base.


How has a future Hall of Famer like Votto won so few awards? He has just one MVP that he won in 2010 over Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez. He finished third in 2015 behind Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt and second this season.

He has been voted an All-Star just five times.

Votto also has zero silver sluggers. Albert Pujols won during Votto’s first three full seasons in the league, but Pujols was the best player in the league at the time, making it understandable. But it is the players who have finished on top of Votto that are more questionable. Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche, Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo have all won the award over Votto.

Who is supposed to win the Silver Slugger? The Louisville Slugger website explains who is supposed to win the award.

“Coaches and managers of Major League teams vote for the players they feel are the best offensive producers at each position in the field in both the American and National Leagues. They base their selections on a combination of offensive statistics including batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, as well as the coaches’ and managers’ general impressions of a player’s overall offensive value.”

This season, Votto led National League first basemen in batting average and on-base percentage and was third in slugging percentage, tied for second in home runs and fourth in RBIs. Paul Goldschmidt finished behind Votto in all of those stats except RBIs. Anthony Rizzo won last year, but only topped Votto in home runs and RBIs.

Of course Votto missed a lot of time during the 2014 season due to injury, so it makes sense he did not win that season. But on what planet is Adam LaRoche a better hitter than Votto? And how does Votto finish ahead of Goldschmidt in MVP voting, but behind in Silver Slugger?

As for the MVP award this season, Stanton did have a monster season as he led the league in home runs (59) and RBIs (132) while also batting .281. Votto finished just two points behind Stanton, making it the closest vote since 1979 and the fourth-closest of all time. Both received 10 first-place votes, but Stanton finished with one more second and third-place vote.

Both had tremendous seasons. Stanton showed what he is fully capable of when healthy and Votto continued to show his consistency and ability to get on base.

Maybe some day Votto will get the league’s respect the past Reds’ greats like Barry Larkin and Johnny Bench. Maybe Votto will earn another award or two. Even if he does not, Votto probably won’t be too upset when he is sitting in Cooperstown someday.



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Josh Gordon

What the Browns can expect from Josh Gordon

Browns fans got something to be thankful for yesterday as wide receiver Josh Gordon returned to practice. It’s not much, but with the season the Browns have had, this may call for a celebration.

With all of Gordon’s struggles with substance abuse, some fans may have forgotten just how good Gordon was as he has not played a game since 2014. In 2013, his last full season in the NFL, Gordon led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,646 while catching 87 passes and scoring nine touchdowns.

The following season, Gordon only played in five games and caught 24 passes for 303 yards. Nothing special, but it was probably hard for Gordon to get in rhythm after missing the team’s first 10 games of the season. He just didn’t seem like himself that season.

Gordon was originally suspended for the entire 2014 season, but his suspension was reduced to 10 games due to the NFL’s new drug policy. He was later suspended for the final game of the season by the Browns for violating team rules.

Gordon was later suspended for the entire 2015 season and the first four games of the 2016 season. Just before the end of his 2016 suspension, Gordon entered a rehabilitation center and now appears to have his life together after struggling with drug and alcohol abuse for so long. An interview with Uninterrupted has fans believing Gordon is past his struggles with addiction for real this time.

But what can fans honestly expect to get from Gordon? He hasn’t played in an NFL game in almost three years. Sure, he may be in shape, but playing in a game and working out are not the same.

Let’s look into where Gordon is right now and see if he can provide some spark and hope for the Cleveland Browns.

First practice

It was Gordon’s first time practicing with the team since training camp in 2016. It was also his first regular season team practice since Dec. 26, 2014. He worked on some drills with the receivers and also did some work with the team despite not playing this week.

How did he look? According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, he looked trim, fit and agile. He caught short and deep balls and the only one he misses was when he slipped. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport said on NFL Network that he looks like Josh Gordon again.

There aren’t too many players on the team that really know him since he has been out so long, but that hasn’t hindered their excitement in any way.

“It’s like Christmas,” Hue Jackson told the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday. “I get to open a new toy. I know what’s in that box, but I just want to see how good it is. It’s exciting that he’ll be back out there.”

After watching Gordon in practice, Jackson’s thoughts are still the same.

“He’s something. It was a good first day,” he said according to the Cleveland Browns Twitter. “He’s what I thought he was.”

Gordon’s shape

Nobody is going to debate whether Gordon ever had it in him or not. He led the league in receiving yards with Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer throwing to him. We have only seen production like that with poor quarterback play come from DeAndre Hopkins as of lately.

Josh Gordon

Josh Gordon hasn’t lost a step based on looks. (Photo from Josh Gordon’s Instagram account @flash)

However, three years is a long time to be out of the league. Marshawn Lynch at 31 years old is struggling after only being removed from the league for a year. Plaxico Burress also struggled in a comeback attempt after missing two seasons. He was older at age 34 when he returned, but he was not the same player he was with the New York Giants.

Luckily for Gordon, he is still just 26 years old. It is also important to note that he is completely sober now. Gordon said in his interview that he was probably on something in every game he has played.

If he can do that while high or drunk, imagine what he can do sober and in the prime of his career. Gordon has been training with former Olympic gold medalist Tim Montgomery. Montgomery said Gordon has come a long way from when they first started working together according to Cleveland.com. He also told Uninterrupted that Gordon could be an olympic champion in the 400 meters if he trained for it.

You can look at Gordon and know he is in shape. He didn’t let himself go in rehab. He has still been working out and doing what he can to make his return to the NFL the best it can possibly be.

Can he help the Browns?

It is tough to blame head coach Hue Jackson or rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer for all the offensive problems. The Browns might have the lowest amount of talent on offense in the NFL right now. Backup running back Duke Johnson Jr. currently leads the team in receiving yards with 414. That says it all right there.

Other offensive “talent” includes Isaiah Crowell, Ricardo Louis, Kenny Britt, Rashard Higgins, Seth DeValve and David Njoku. Former first-round pick Corey Coleman is finally healthy now as well.

Gordon will no doubt be the top target on this team, which isn’t very hard to do. However, it is hard for receivers to make an impact on a team. Of course Gordon has succeeded with poor quarterback play before, but bringing wins to a bad team is another story. Even the great Randy Moss couldn’t make the Raiders a winner in his short stint in Oakland.

We have seen quarterbacks like Tom Brady make stars out of receivers like Julian Edelman and Wes Welker. You just don’t see it too much the other way around. Receivers only get so many targets a game, and under 10 plays a game to make an impact. The Browns went 4-12 despite Gordon’s great play

It is going to be a process in Cleveland. Even if Gordon ends up playing like he did, it is going to take a lot more to fix this team than a wide receiver. Fans who are worried about the Browns losing the first overall pick in the draft can rest easy.


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Miami Hurricanes

It’s time to respect the Miami Hurricanes

It’s all about The U. The Miami Hurricanes are taking the NCAA by storm with their swagger and stellar defense.

The Hurricanes began the season ranked 18th in the AP poll, and now find themselves ranked third in the latest CFP poll, moving up four spots after several of the top ranked teams lost on Saturday.

Notre Dame, who was previously ranked No. 3, was the latest victim of The U. The matchup was one of the most anticipated of the week as the Catholics and Convicts were both ranked in the top 10 with a lot to prove.

If you tuned in Saturday night, it was a rather boring game. Miami blew out Notre Dame 41-8. Miami’s prized turnover chain also made four appearances throughout the night.

This was a statement win for Miami. As of late, nobody has been giving them much respect since they have had a few close calls against unranked opponents and supposedly have a weak strength of schedule. However, they kept moving up in the polls due to their undefeated record.

Now that they have blown out a top-10 team on national television, it is time to start respecting the Miami Hurricanes.

Strength of record

Some fans just can’t get around the fact that the Hurricanes haven’t played big-time competition like Clemson or Notre Dame. The Hurricanes currently rank 21st in strength of schedule, which is the fifth toughest amongst the top 10 teams in the CFP poll. The best teams they have played include Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and Toledo.

Mark Richt knows what it’s all about. (Photo by Erum Kidwai // The Miami Hurricane)

However, their strength of record is first in the nation. Strength of record is a little more foreign to some fans, but it is not simply saying a 9-0 record is better than 8-1.

Strength of record reflects the chance of an average top 25 team having the same record or better as said team based on their schedule. Strength of record incorporates some strength of schedule in it. Basically what it is getting at is would the average top 25 team have an undefeated record like Miami if they played the same teams.

As far as strength of record goes, Miami is first followed by Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Georgia and Wisconsin. Despite Clemson having the third hardest strength of schedule, it is still more impressive that Miami has gone undefeated given their schedule than Clemson going 9-1 with theirs.

If fans still want to complain about Miami’s “weak” schedule, they better really complain about Alabama, who ranks 38th and is the No. 1 team in the nation. Or maybe No. 5 Wisconsin, who currently ranks 67th in strength of schedule.

Hurricane Irma and injuries

It has been a while, but remember that Miami had a lot of conflict to deal with early on in the season due to Hurricane Irma.

Miami had to cancel their game against Arkansas State and also had to reschedule matchups against Florida State and Georgia Tech. Miami also struggled in those two games, winning at Florida State 24-20 and beating Georgia Tech at home 25-24 in back-to-back weeks. These two games are a big part of why Miami has not gained the respect of all college football fans.

After having five games scheduled for the month of September, Miami only played three.

Playing those early season games are important for a team to get into rhythm and get ready for conference play down the stretch. Sure, having a week off to rest later in the season is nice to give players a break, but how do you expect to get in shape when you don’t play a game for 21 days? That is what the Hurricanes were dealing with and explains why they were having struggles in the month of October.

Miami also lost their star running back Mark Walton for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury in the Florida State game. In the four games Walton played this season, he had 428 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He was already dealing with problems with his other ankle to begin with and still put up numbers like that. Imagine what Miami could be doing with a healthy Walton, who was a possible ACC player of the year candidate.

Along with Walton, one of the team’s top receivers, Ahmmon Richards, has also missed time due to injury, including the Georgia Tech game. Richards has been dealing with a hamstring problem and missed time due to an ankle injury. After being an All-American freshman last season, expectations for Richards were through the roof this year.

All of this can really put pressure on a quarterback to perform, but Malik Rosier doesn’t seem to be letting it bother him too much. After star quarterback Brad Kaaya took off for the NFL, fans weren’t really sure what to expect from Rosier. Throw in all the missed time due to Hurricane Irma and injuries to some of your star players and it makes it that much more difficult.

Despite his circumstances, Rosier has 2,410 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also has 339 rushing yards and four more scores.

Defense wins championships

While the offense has struggled at times this season, the defense has been keeping Miami competitive.

Miami Hurricanes

Trajan Bandy knows a thing or two about the turnover chain. (Photo by Associated Press)

Miami’s defense will wreck you. They rank second in tackles for loss per game (8.8), second in turnover margin (1.67), fourth in forced turnovers (24), fourth in interceptions (16), fifth in sacks (33) and 10th in points allowed per game (16.6). Keep in mind that Miami has had to cancel a game, making their season totals that much more impressive.

This defense held Notre Dame, who ranks 14th in points scored per game at 38, to just eight points. They held Virginia Tech, who is averaging 31.5 points per game, to just 10 points.

Everybody knows about Miami’s turnover chain by now. It’s pretty hard to miss if you have watched any Miami football games or any weekend highlights of any kind.

Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz came up with the idea and has his defense hungry for the football with it. It gives his players that much more reason to force turnovers and look like a boss on the sidelines wearing the prized possession.

Respect The U

It is time to give the Miami Hurricanes the respect they deserve. With the top ranked strength of record, hungry defense and the issues caused by Hurricane Irma and injuries, this Miami team is something special. After those struggles in October, they are playing their best football against their toughest competition.

The U will be facing off against Clemson for the ACC Championship game when the season is all said and done. With Clemson currently ranked No. 2 and Miami No. 3, the stage is set for a historic showdown. Miami is out to prove they are legit and Clemson is seeking their third straight championship game appearance. Get ready.


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