Muschamp gone, Texans and Cowboys continue slides, and more
I probably say this every year, but this has to be the toughest season yet to be a Texans fan. When you set expectations so high, you have so much farther to fall. Since starting 4-2, Houston has lost eight of nine including last week's woeful 17-31 performance against the rival Tennessee Titans. The Texans were never in the game, and I did something I've never done before: I stopped watching at the half. It almost feels like a dirty secret to share this with the public, but blame the Texans, not my loyalty. I doubt there are many more-loyal Texans fans in this city, but I just can't torture myself any further. And it has been torturous. But I'll be back in the saddle this Sunday (3:05pm, CBS) as their league-worst defense (minus Mario Williams! and DeMeco Ryans!) faces Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos. Tebow might be a good fantasy play this week going against the Houston D. Who wouldn't be?
The Cowboys travel to Arizona (Sat., Dec. 25, 6:30pm, NFL Network) to face the dreadful Cardinals in a game that Dallas is favored to win by seven. I expect them to more than cover the spread. I'm thrilled that Marion Barber is out of the way and we get a chance to see running back Tashard Choice shine. If you are still alive in your fantasy league (which I am), Choice is a decent flex play, if he's still available. Thanks to Christmas, we have NFL action on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this week!
Picks: After posting a 3-1 record last week, I am currently 23-18-2 against the spread this year. But this week is another tough one. I make my picks on Wednesdays, which is a handicap since not all the spreads are out yet and I'm not sure which players will be active or not. But here goes: I'll take the Cowboys minus 7 in Arizona, the Lions plus 3.5 in Miami, the Rams minus 2 at home vs. the Niners, the Bills plus 9 at home vs. New England, and the Falcons minus 3 at home vs. the Saints. Happy holidays, y'all.
Area Bars and the Football Teams/Fans They Cater To:
Aussie's catered to Browns fans last year but is focusing more on the Texans and Cowboys this season. 306 Barton Springs Rd., 480-0952.
Bagpipes Pub & Eatery supplies the setting for Alabama Crimson Tide football fans. 9070 Research, 467-8700.
B.D. Riley's Irish Pub is the place to go if you're a fan of Tom Brady's tresses or his football team, the New England Patriots. Fittingly, the pub is also home for Notre Dame games. 204 E. Sixth, 494-1335.
Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill (both locations) is a straight-up Steelers bar. 6901 N. I-35, 454-2247; 214 E. Sixth, 469-0001.
Billy's on Burnet is the "unofficial Packers bar of Austin." 2105 Hancock, 407-9305.
Black Sheep Lodge has a good contingent of Saints, Redskins, Vikings, Texans, and Titans fans. USC and Ohio State lovers cheer on their teams on Saturdays. 2108 S. Lamar, 707-2744.
Cedar Door hosts USC and TCU supporters. Second & Brazos, 473-3712.
Cool River Cafe is the place for Nebraska Cornhuskers fans. 4001 W. Parmer, 835-0010.
Hog Island Italian Deli hosts Philadelphia Eagles watch parties. 1612 Lavaca, 482-9090.
Joe's Bar and Grill Attention Colt McCoy lovers, Joe's hosts fans of the NFL's Cleveland Browns. 506 West Ave., 473-0885.
Mangia Pizza Mesa is the official home for Auburn football. 8012 Mesa, 349-2126.
Pluckers North Austin is the official home of the Arkansas Razorbacks. 9070 Research, 533-9464.
Pluckers South Lamar is the official place to be for Michigan Wolverines games. 3909 S. Lamar, 443-9464.
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. 12th, 320-8377.
Third Base Round Rock caters to Giants, Chargers, and Steelers fans. Arkansas Razorbacks lovers meet there on Saturdays. 3107 S. I-35, Round Rock, 512/388-2273.
Third Base Southpark Meadows is the place to be for Saints, Vikings, and Steelers supporters. In the NCAA, it's Oregon State, Minnesota, and Texas Tech territory. 9600 S. I-35, 381-2273.
Third Base Downtown has a good following for the Texans, Saints, and Vikings and generally a "pretty mixed" crowd. As far as college goes, it's the official home for Illinois Fighting Illini and Florida Gators fans, as well as followers of Maryland, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Kansas. 1717 W. Sixth, 476-2273.
The Warehouse Saloon & Billiards sees a lot of Vikings fans, among 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.