On our radio show, every Wednesday is what are the odds Wednesday (shameless plug for The Blitz on ESPN 97.5 from 12-2 every day). Instead of just sports questions and answers, we put odds on the questions. For example: What are the odds the Packers repeat as Super Bowl champions? Answer: 60 percent. Then we explain why.
As 2011 winds down, let’s play a friendly game of What are the Odds Wednesday with some pressing questions on the Houston sports scene:
1) What are the odds the Texans win a playoff game?
Answer: 58 percent. They will get a home game against Cincinnati, Oakland, Tennessee or the Jets. The odds are long on the Jets getting that last spot, and that team would be the most difficult matchup for the Texans. The Raiders won at Reliant earlier this year, but they have had some key injuries and aren’t quite as good. (Then again, neither are the Texans). No matter what happens Sunday, the Titans are simply mediocre at best. And the Texans were able to handle the Bengals in Cincy; they should have little problems at home. Still, a third string rookie QB makes all of it a crap shoot.
2) What are the odds they win two playoff games?
A: 15 percent. Getting the first one will be tough; the second will mean beating Pittsburgh, New England or Baltimore on the road. With this team’s injury problems, it would be a major accomplishment. As far as making the AFC Championship game? Ten percent, with a five percent chance of making the Super Bowl and a two percent chance of winning it.
3) What are the odds the Texans got hosed by getting only two pro bowlers?
A: 100 percent. Jonathan Joseph was deserving, and Arian Foster has had a good enough year to deserve a trip to Hawaii as well. But Duane Brown, Brian Cushing and even Chris Myers should been given consideration. Cushing should have been a lock; he is having an outstanding year and deserving of All-Pro status much less the Pro Bowl. Like Brown, however, his positive banned substance test from last season probably played a role. Myers simply isn’t well known enough outside Houston. Regardless, Cushing got hosed, with Brown a close second.
4) What are the odds Wade Phillips is still defensive coordinator for the Texans next season?
A: 60 percent. He will get some job interviews. His age and recent health problems might scare teams off, but the Texans turnaround was squarely on his shoulders and other teams will see that. Phillips has had success as a head coach, but never sustained success. GMs and owners have short memories and have already forgotten the Cowboys 1-7 start last year. Phillips — like Dom Capers — is an outstanding defensive coordinator doing the job he is best suited for. As a head coach? He isn’t as effective. But don’t be shocked if someone gives him a chance.
5) What are the odds Mario Williams is back with the team next season?
A: 50 percent. This is a true coin flip. Williams will command a monster salary on a team already dealing with cap issues. He is a terrific player and I have always defended him, but he is becoming injury prone and the cost might not be worth the production. The Texans want to bring him back, but this could go either way.
6) What are the odds the Rockets make the playoffs?
A: 30 percent. It’s hard to be encouraged about this team. Rick Adelman got as much out of them as possible last season, and they still came up short. Kevin McHale might eventually become a good coach, but he is not in Adelman’s league, and this is essentially the same roster. The only hope is that Daryl Morey will finally be able to pull off that franchise-changing trade. (At least one that David Stern doesn’t torpedo. As an aside, Stern’s ruling on that deal was ridiculous. At some point, it’s time to admit the guy is a fraud as a commissioner). In the meantime, this group of Rockets tries hard, but has limited talent, no superstar and little hope of landing one. The best hope is to sneak in as a 7 or 8 seed because of attrition to other teams. Otherwise, this team is just good enough to be middle of the pack. Again.
7) What are the odds the Rockets do have a star in the making on the roster?
A: 20 percent. Kyle Lowry might very well be that guy. He has developed into an above average point guard and might be ready to take that next step. Of the Rockets collection of former first-round picks who busted for other teams, Terrance Williams and Jordan Hill might still develop into useful players, but it’s unlikely either will ever be stars. Jonny Flynn and Hasheem Thabeet will be in the private sector before long.
8) What are the odds the Astros are relevant again in the next three years?
A: 10 percent. New GM Jeff Luhnow seems to get it, but he inherited a major mess left behind by Drayton McLane and Philadelphia Phillies double agent Ed Wade. The pending move to the AL won’t help either. It’s looking like five or six years before this team is competitive again, which is a damned shame for Astros fans.
9) What are the odds Tony Levine picks up where Kevin Sumlin left off at UH?
A: 50 percent. It’s simply a complete unknown. I have never been a fan of the Special Teams guy to head coach move. It rarely works. There is a reason there is a tried and true path to the head coaching job of coordinating a defense or offense first. But people who know him rave about his abilities and believe he will be a big success. He certainly has some advantages; UH is headed to an AQ conference in 2013 in the Big East (and yes, the BE will keep its AQ status) and will hopefully have a new stadium to play in as well. UH got a lot of major media attention this past year and should be able to pick up more recruits. It remains to be seen what Levine can do, but everything is in place for him to be successful if he is up to the task.
10) Speaking of Sumlin, what are the odds he will be successful at Texas A&M?
A: 50 percent. Sumlin is a damned good coach. His teams play disciplined football, don’t turn the ball over and rarely commit stupid penalties. (The C-USA Championship game is being ignored for the purposes of this discussion). However, it is fair to say he failed in his biggest test as a coach. And in the SEC, there will be five or six C-USA Championship-type games. He’ll be matching wits with the likes of Nick Saban, Les Miles and Bobby Petrino on a regular basis. It’s a big step up in class for the school and Sumlin. It also remains to be seen if he is the right fit at A&M. Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman looked like good fits, too. Can he recruit at the highest level? Those are all fair questions.
Someone is going to eventually turn A&M into a big time program. There are simply too many positives in College Station. Maybe Sumlin will be the guy, maybe not. This one could easily go either way.