2017 likely won't be the Texans' year, and that's fine. It belongs to Deshaun Watson.

In a tough 41-38 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, Watson threw for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. And while the Texans have only won two of their past five games, they've scored more than 30 points each week over that span. It just so happens the defense can't make anything of that bounty of points. Yes, Watson also threw a pick-six in Seattle, but 38 points is enough to win most games.

All this makes the curtailed seasons for J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus all the more crushing. With them, Houston could very well be catapulted into Super Bowl contention, considering how flawed the rest of the field is in the AFC, with even the Steelers and Patriots looking vulnerable.

Houston didn't seem to believe it had much in the rookie out of Clemson, since they stuck Tom Savage out there to get decimated by Jacksonville in Week 1. But they've found their franchise QB now -- whether by luck or design -- and that's most of the battle in the NFL.

Bob McNair rekindles mass anthem kneeling

This week, Texans owner McNair got into trouble for a comment he made during a players-owners meeting in which he lamented that the NFL couldn't let "the inmates run the prison. Given that McNair had apologized for his comments before Sunday rolled around, most observers understood that the owner crossed a line. Nevertheless, some arrived at ridiculous conclusions, like deciding that the players who protested should be playing for free.

Belichick roasts another one

As always, practice safe journalism out there. Don't go asking Bill Belichick inane questions expecting not to receive withering terseness in response.

Fan of the week

A Seahawks crowd is full of costumes under normal circumstances. They have a guy who paints himself as The Incredible Hulk for every game. As you might expect, that gets ramped up on Halloween weekend. Case in point, this needlessly tall alien costume that was in attendance on Sunday. I would hate to be the person stuck sitting behind that monstrosity. If the Seahawks don't print "possible obscured view" on all their tickets to anticipate just such a situation, they are setting themselves up for disaster.

5 up


The rookie set a new NFL record with 19 touchdowns over his first seven career games, passing Kurt Warner. It's worth remembering that Warner had a few years of seasoning between the NFL and Arena League before 1999 came around. Watson is doing this all right out of school.

Russell Wilson

Due to the way NFL stats work, Wilson technically outgained his team on Sunday, credited with 482 yards between passing and rushing while the Seahawks finished with 479 on the day. This is due to the fact that QB sacks count against team yardage stats, but not the quarterback's. Still, Wilson had to produce for the vast majority of the offensive output on the day for that to be possible. He seemed to produce big plays out of the ether, as he always does when he's on, especially when close games are winding down.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

Martavis Bryant had been plenty impressive before he missed the entire 2016 season due to a suspension multiple positive drug tests. The Steelers seem to be banking on JuJu as the next big receiving threat, much to Martavis' dismay. If Sunday is any indication, they're making a decent call. JuJu has had several memorable moments before Week 8, but this was truly his breakout performance, with 193 yards receiving, including a 97-yard TD that proved to be the difference.

LeSean McCoy

Could this at long last be the season the Bills return to the postseason? If so, Shady is going to be a huge part of that. It's clear Tyrod Taylor has been undervalued by this team. Still, McCoy is the biggest star on the offense and his playmaking ability was evident in the win over thew Raiders. His 48-yard touchdown may have come near the end of a one-sided game. He still had over 100 on the day if you took away.

Geno Atkins

Pitted against the Colts' porous line, you would expect a mismatch and that's what it was. The Bengals defensive tackle had a sack and six hurries of Jacoby Brissett. The most critical came on a 4th down in Bengals territory with Cincy leading by one inside two minutes.

5 down

Jalen Richard

On Sunday, Marshawn Lynch was serving his one-game suspension for touching an official. That meant the Raiders needed one of their backs to step up to replace production, which admittedly is not all that significant. Richard had 56 total yards on the day and averaged more than four per carry, but he did lose a fumble. Overall, not the worst day ever, but I'm going to defer to his playing expertise when he makes a "poo butt" assessment of himself.

Eli Rogers

With Bryant being sat down for a week due to missing meetings and snippy social media updates, the slot receiver had a chance to stand out in the Steelers offense. On Pittsburgh's opening drive, Rogers dropped an easy touchdown catch and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal. The Steelers ended up prevailing because both teams struggled in the red zone. It took JuJu's heroics to put them over the top.

Chandler Catanzaro

The Jets kicker missed two field goals in a rainy affair that New York ended up losing by five. The misses were from 46 and 48 yards, which are certainly not gimmes by any means. Missing multiple from 40 in one game is still not something that will endear a kicker to his team. Sensing an opportunity, Ross Martin, the free agent kicker Catanzaro beat out in training camp, posted a video of himself making three straight kicks from beyond 50 in the rain. Y'know, just putting it out there.

Mitch Trubisky

The Bears have shown the formula for winning with their rookie quarterback and it mostly involves him doing as little as possible. Not that Trubisky doesn't show flashes of ability. At this point, he's not going to guide them to victories on his own. That was evident against the Saints, as he completed fewer than half his passes, and was 5-15 for 31 yards and an interception under pressure.

Jameis Winston

It's getting close to the point that a season that started with such lofty expectations for Winston might be just about over by midseason. Granted he's playing with an injured shoulder, but there's no margin for failure now. On Sunday, Winston threw two picks in a 17-3 loss to Carolina.

The week in celebrations

The Eagles' elaborate baseball celebration is so good, they're experimenting with the format. The sign of true artists. During Sunday's win over the 49ers, they celebrated one touchdown by assuming the baseball pitcher-hitter stance. Only this time, instead of a home run being hit, the pitcher beaned the hitter. They're sacrificing their bodies even for the sake of celebration.

But, of course, what would a recap of celebrations be without the clubhouse leaders in celebratory innovation, the Steelers ...

Remember a few years ago when the Steelers were the most daring team when it came to two-point conversions? Well, they've sublimated all that bravery and creative energy toward celebrations. Not the worst thing.