The Austin Chronicle

Football Watch

By Mark Fagan, September 10, 2010, Sports

What a great time of the year it is for sports fans. Major League Baseball is in its run to the playoffs (Texas Rangers with a seven game divisional lead as of press time), the NBA season is looming (Rockets vs. Lakers, Heat vs. Celtics opening night Oct. 26), English Premier League soccer is under way (go Potters!), and most importantly, in the good ol' USA, football season has begun. With TV ratings through the roof and most stadiums at capacity, American football reigns supreme. Fantasy football is played by millions, and in my opinion makes for smarter fans. Fantasy players are familiar with athletes from all the teams, not just their favorites, and will watch a Buccaneers vs. Niners game just to see how Michael Crabtree or "Cadillac" Williams performs. I have three fantasy teams. Three. It'll be a rarity when there will be an NFL game this season that doesn't have fantasy implications for me. That being said, I'd take a Houston Texans victory over a fantasy win any week. The Texans are going to be an exciting team to watch. If Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson (the NFL's undisputed best wide receiver) stay healthy, they are gonna do some real damage, and undrafted running back Arian Foster is poised for a breakout year. Their defense played well in the homestretch last season behind DeMeco Ryans, Mario Williams, Bernard Pollard, and rookie sensation Brian Cushing (suspended for the first four games this season due to violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs). The overrated Cowboys have struggled during the preseason. Their offense is flat and should be a huge concern for fans hoping to see their boys be the first-ever team to play in their home stadium in the Super Bowl. Like Kirk Bohls, I predict the Texans will have more regular season wins than the Cowboys this year, but I'm not sure I'll go as far as to say that Houston will play in the Super Bowl. But they will make the playoffs for the first time in club history. The Cowboys hope their banged-up offensive line can hold together for Tony Romo, Miles Austin, rookie Dez Bryant, and friends to have a chance this year. Looks like we've run out of space, maybe we'll get into college ball next week.

Area bars and the NFL teams/fans they cater to:

Aussie's Bar and Grill catered to Browns fans last year but are focusing more on the Texans and Cowboys this season. 306 Barton Springs Rd., 480-0952.

BD Riley's Irish Pub is the place go if you're a fan of Tom Brady's tresses or his football team, the Patriots. 204 E. Sixth, 494-1335.

Bikinis (both locations) is a straight-up Steelers bars. 6901 N. I-35, 454-2247, and 214 E. Sixth, 469-0001.

Billy's on Burnet is the "unofficial Packers bar of Austin." 2105 Hancock Dr., 407-9305.

Black Sheep Lodge has a good contingent of Saints, Redskins, Vikings, Texans, and Titans fans. 2108 S. Lamar, 707-2744.

Hog Island Italian Deli hosts Eagles watch parties. 1612 Lavaca, 482-9090.

Shoal Creek Saloon is the home of the Saints. 909 N. Lamar, 474-0805.

The Tavern sees a lot of Steelers and Ravens fans show up for NFL Sundays. 922 W. Lamar, 320-8377.

Third Base Round Rock caters to Giants, Chargers, and Steelers fans. 3107 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/388-2273.

Third Base South Park Meadows is the place to be for Saints, Vikings, and Steelers supporters. 9600 S. I-35, 381-2273.

Third Base Downtown has a good group for the Texans, Saints, and Vikings and generally a "pretty mixed" crowd. 1717 W. Sixth, 476-2273.

Warehouse Saloon & Billiards sees a lot of Vikings fans amongst others. I've also heard Dolphins and Bears fans have been known to congregate there. 509 E. Ben White, 443-8799.

Weirdos is a Chargers bar. 12408 MoPac N., 291-6703.

Hit me up at gameplans@austinchronicle with additional info.

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