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Confidence breeds contempt in this showdown

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  January 8, 2013 10:03 AM

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Mickey Mouse.

Orlando may be home of the mouse, but Houston once again has proven that it is land of the overwhelming inferiority complex, the largest city known to humankind that continues to display a junior varsity aura despite the lettermen jackets their football team so brazenly broke out recently. And it’s on full display this week when it comes to the Houston Texans.

Is there any way that fans, media, and players in the likes of Baltimore or Denver (San Diego is exempt) would have reacted to Dan Shaughnessy’s dismissal of the Patriots’ playoff opponent this weekend like Houston’s ballyhooed outrage? Clearly, the column might have been better taking the hard line stance of “One team will win, one team will lose.” Then, just to make everybody happy, add “Maybe.”

Boo-hoo, Houston.

Here are the facts: The Texans have been a shell since visiting Foxborough last month, getting trounced 42-14. They only needed to beat an Indianapolis team already locked into the No. 5 seed in the final weekend of the season in order to secure home field throughout the playoffs, and they choked on the opportunity, and then looked thoroughly unimpressive against the Bengals on Saturday. The city owes its pair of NBA titles to Michael Jordan’s first retirement, and still continues to enable Prodigal Son Roger Clemens with awe and wonder.

The Patriots are 9 1/2-point favorites in Sunday’s game. Oh, and remember, Rob Gronkowski wasn’t around for the first showdown with Houston.

Sure, the Texans have a chance. Using Lloyd Christmas math.

But if they do somehow pull off the upset, I suppose it’s all Shaughnessy’s fault for providing locker room material. Texans running back Arian Foster has already made a portion of the column his Twitter avatar, and that has local fans attacking media members, media members lambasting their colleagues for…what, exactly?

Can we all just get over ourselves?

Houston fans may be losers, but the staunch retort of anything that in any way slights the Patriots in New England is getting a little tiring. We criticize the Bruins and Celtics. We demolish the Red Sox machine. Yet any dig at the Patriots brings fire and brimstone from a select segment of the fandom, not to mention the media members in the team’s back pocket. See no. Hear no. Speak no.

Granted, a portion of that is thanks to the maximum security under paranoid Bill Belichick, but even when doubt and criticism are due, you can count on the facts and figures being presented an alternative way in order to defend the crown. In this case, I don’t know whether it’s more fitting to laugh at how seriously they’re taking a newspaper column in Texas, or how much it bothers people up here.

So, here’s a take: The team that scores more points will win the game. Is that vanilla enough for everybody? Is nobody offended?

That team is probably going to be the Patriots. No disrespect intended, Houston, but next month it's a heck of a lot more likely the Patriots are ultimately going to Disney World than you are.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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