Apologies to the Cincinnati Bengals, but the Houston Texans were supposed to win Saturday. They went 12-4 and were a popular preseason pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. They beat the Bengals in the wild-card round last season, too. The victory didn't tell us anything about the organization's progress.
Next week will.
The Texans were 11-1 when they headed to New England to prove they were the premier team in the AFC. They lost 42-14 and went on to drop three of the final four.
"You can't forget it," Texans defensive end Antonio Smith told CBS Sports' Pete Prisco. "You have to take it with you. You have to put it in your gut. You have to hurt. You have to remember every bit of despair you felt because that's the level you have to go to play a team like that."
The Texans never will be considered true contenders until they knock off the Patriots. The Texans have two playoff victories in franchise history. The Patriots had two in 2011 and played in the Super Bowl -- again.
They earned the opportunity. What will the Texans do with it?
Follow Kareem Copeland on Twitter @kareemcopeland.