The Houston Texans don't have to look far for bulletin-board material. They can wait for the end of the week, when it's likely that no one will pick them to win their divisional-round game against the New England Patriots. Or they can read Dan Shaughnessy's column in the Boston Globe.
Some choice sections:
1. "Could this get any easier? I mean, seriously? The planets are aligned and the tomato cans are in place. The fraudulent Houston Texans are the only team standing between the New England Patriots and a trip to the AFC Championship game."
2. Comparing the Texans to the 2010 New York Jets, who won in Foxborough after being blown out by the Patriots during the regular season, Shaughnessy says: "Those Jets had players and a coach who did not wet their pants at the sight of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those Jets had attitude. The 2012-13 Texans? Pure frauds. The worst 11-1 team in the history of the NFL. These Texans have absolutely zero chance of beating New England here next week. And everybody knows that this is true."
It goes on from there, but you get the idea. Getting a rise of his readers is part of Shaughnessy's job. For the latter part of his career, it feels like the main part of his job. The chances of Shaughnessy actually having watched the Texans play outside of that Week 14 loss to the Patriots is slimmer than the Texans' chances of winning Sunday, but that's not the point.
The Texans have their fuel. Bill Belichick will give Houston all the respect in the world, but this really is how many folks, especially in Boston, view this game. (Belichick surely will love seeing this column.)
I feel differently. The Texans are far more dangerous than last year's Denver Broncos team that went into New England and lost. While we don't quite trust Houston's offense to score enough points, its defense has enough pieces to give Tom Brady problems.
The Patriots are heavy favorites in this game, and they should be. But let's not get carried away. The Texans soundly beat the other two teams still left in the AFC playoffs. New England didn't exactly finish the season strong, and Houston still is capable of beating any team on a given day.
Even if the Texans look like tomato cans to the untrained eye.
UPDATE: Shaughnessy's column grabbed the attention of at least one Texan. Running back Arian Foster changed his twitter avatar to reflect the lead of the column. Shaughnessy responded by tweeting: "hey @arianfoster -- Loving the avatar. Bring your A game to Foxboro on Sunday."Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.