Man, NFL Sundays used to be so much easier when the Texans sucked.
You knew they were going to lose, they knew they were going to lose, all your friends knew they were going to lose -- what was the sense in putting a lot of effort into watching? Unless you're putting together an Irish wake, you don't really knock yourself out preparing for a deathwatch. (And even then you're just laying out some beer, booze and cold cuts.)
Now, however, the Texans are the hot pick to get to the Super Bowl in the AFC. And all of a sudden, Sunday NFL game-watching has been taken to a new level.
(Oldsters, break out the Spanky & Our Gang.)
How have things changed in Houston? At least these five ways.
The pre-2012 seasons are represented on the left when there are two pictures; this year is to the right.
5. Food That cold pizza might have been good enough back when Jacoby Jones was catching punts, but it ain't gonna cut it this year. The proper elaborate presentation fit for a division champ is going to take a little more effort and imagination, but the Texans deserve it.
4. Fashion Couch-potato sweats got you through Dom Capers, David Carr and the meaningless out-of-the-running games that seemed to begin in mid-November each year.
This year, you're hitting the Texans store and representing, no matter how foolish the results are.
3. When To Get Started Before 2012, you got started on your game-watching prep about 11:55 a.m. Sunday when you rolled out of bed and reached for the remote.
No more. By Friday you're plotting out menus, making sure there's enough beer stocked so that you're not waiting impatiently at kickoff for the noon curfew to be lifted to get some more Buds, and counting chairs to make sure everyone has a seat.
Geez, it used to be so much simpler when the team sucked.
2. Post-Game Clean-Up Before 2012: Paper plates, paper towels, a spork or two for any leftover Chinese. Clean-up consisted of tossing into a garbage bag when you got around to it.
Now you're creating dishes involving pans, pots and all kinds of kitchenware whose names are unknown to the average male, but all of which must be soaked and cleaned. The fact that the soaking and cleaning comes after a game means that the job will be put off until a blowtorch is required to separate the chunks of food from the plates involved, but we all have to make sacrifices on the way to New Orleans.
1. Post-Game Status Used to be, you could turn the game off halfway through the third quarter, confident of another loss, and get on with your Sunday life.
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Now you're reveling in victory, dreaming Super Bowl dreams and likely drunk. And it's only 3 p.m. Sunday.
So you're left with some options: Take a nap, which means waking up at 6 or so with the day blown and a headache developing, or continuing on with your drink and seeing where the sports-bar scene takes you.
With another Texans victory in the books, everyone looks better in team gear; everyone's in a good mood; everyone wants to share the happiness. So it may not only be Andre Johnson doing any scoring today.