Houston had a chance, of course, with rookie phenom Deshaun Watson under center, but now those playoff hopes are fading fast.


Before tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in practice, Watson completed 62 percent of his passes en route to a 19-to-8 touchdown ratio and 103 passer rating. He also was — and still is — the most valuable passer per ESPN’s Total Quarterback Rating.

Harden’s appearance on the lowlights is likely a one-off due to rust and a minutes restriction, as he made his return to the court after missing several games with a hamstring injury. Gordon picked up the scoring slack for him on Thursday. Luc Mbah a Moute (available in 98.6 percent of leagues) got the start in place of the suspended Trevor Ariza and took advantage with 14 points (5-9 FG, 5 rebounds, 4 3-pointers, 2 assists and 1 steal in 32 minutes). PJ Tucker (available in 97 percent of leagues) also got more run than usual, scoring 5 points with 9 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 3-pointer in 34 minutes off the bench. Both likely have one more game with extended minutes on Saturday on the second suspension game for Ariza and Green before things return to normal.

Things are much more competitive in the NFC, where only the Eagles have at least a three-game lead atop their division. There’s also the fact that the NFC is just better this year:

On offense, the Dolphins will have Jay Ajayi, one of four players in NFL history with three games of more than 200 yards rushing in a single season (the others are Earl Campbell, O.J. Simpson and Tiki Barber). Wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the team with 94 catches for 1,136 yards and, since he entered the league in 2014, he has caught 288 passes, tying Odell Beckham Jr. for the most by a player in his first three seasons. Wide receiver Kenny Stills led the team with nine touchdown catches.

On defense, well, there’s Ndamukong Suh, who had 2 1/2 sacks and two tackles for loss in two postseason games with Detroit. Since 2010, Suh ranks second among defensive tackles in the league with 94 tackles for loss and third with 47 sacks. And his fellow defensive end, Cameron Wake, is tied for third in the NFL this season with five forced fumbles and is third in the AFC with 11 1/2 sacks.