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Saturday, January 5, 2013
It's all doom and gloom in Houston

By Paul Kuharsky

HOUSTON -- I don’t believe I’ve ever covered a playoff game where the bulk of the crowd had such poor expectations.

A home playoff game is usually filled with optimism.

But after the Texans blew three chances in the past four weeks in games that could have clinched them the No. 1 seed in the AFC and a weekend off, a town once dubbed Choke City is bracing for bad.

I’m not even sure of most of the people here at Reliant Stadium not related to players will be preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. I think they are preparing for the worst and hoping something happens somewhere else that turns down the volume around the league about the Texans' collapse.

That said, last year Houston wasn’t in great shape coming into the exact same matchup in the exact same round. They had lost their final three, though the third didn’t mean much. And the Texans found the winning formula that had disappeared, and found a way to advance.

Win this one and they go to New England for a divisional round game that won’t bring big expectations either, since they got crushed there at that start of that final month.

Has the fans' thinking crept into the team's head? I think there is doubt rattling around in there somewhere, but it's nothing a great opening drive or a big early takeaway can't quiet.

The inactives:

Texans
Bengals