The Pats' blow-out win over the Texans was as predictable as it was oddly comforting.
New England now assumes the mantle of "Super Bowl favorites," which tees up the optimal NFL dynamic -- the Pats look unstoppable... right up until they lose in the Super Bowl.
It's possible the memory of last year's SB defeat is driving these Pats this season. But it's more likely that the Texans are a facade of a contender, finally exposed on national TV as pretenders.
Tom Brady is at the top of his game. The Texans are soft. The theme of this NFL season -- at least as it relates to the playoffs -- is largely that it will play out a lot like last season.
And so if the expectation from the rest of us for Houston used to be "Super Bowl or bust," then the expectation from the rest of us for New England now is "Super Bowl bust or bust."
*RGIII Update: LCL sprain, which means he could play as early as this weekend against Cleveland, but will definitely be available for the final two-game stretch. I'm not even a Redskins fan, and even I say phew.
*The NFL's Tagliabue ruling on the Saints' bounty program: It's coming today, and I fully expect Tags to go along with his successor. Perhaps this gives the league cover for the punishment to be walked back slightly, but anything more than that will be viewed as a rebuke of Roger Goodell.... and no ex-commissioner is going to send that message.
*Bobby Petrino to Western Kentucky: He will win and probably win big, right away. No one ever questioned whether Petrino is a good coach -- only whether he can make responsible choices in his personal life. That means that the situation at WKU won't end well, even if it ends with wins.
*NFL Draft: Marcus Lattimore is heading in early, probably two years too late. After his marvelous freshman season -- in which he established himself as the best RB in college football and the most NFL-ready college RB since Adrian Peterson -- he would have been a 1st-round pick. But NFL draft age-limits kept him out, so he returned to college for his sophomore year, when he tore his ACL. He still would have been a high draft pick had he been allowed to come out a year ago. But again, the draft age-limits mandated he return to college, when his other knee was mangled. Here's hoping he gets a shot in the NFL -- and here's hoping his cautionary tale ultimately changes the artificially constraining rules. (They won't, but it's worth hoping.)
*NBA: The Jeremy Lin story in a nutshell -- scores 38 for Houston but the Rockets lose to the Spurs. That's not a knock on Lin; it's a symbol of Houston's ceiling (after all, most teams lose to the Spurs). Here's hoping last night's game jump-starts a little holiday Linsanity.
*Jobs: Ravens fire OC Cam Cameron. The Ravens' offense isn't working, and so the team sided with franchise (or "franchise") QB Joe Flacco, rather than its architect. That's the way it works in the NFL.
*Should Josh Brent get to go to Jerry Brown's memorial if he wants to? I leave it up to Jerry Brown's family to decide, and they seem to want him to be there with the rest of the team. The Cowboys, for their part, support that decision. Something about that feels off, but it is the Brown family prerogative.