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Thursday NFL games are weird. Teams playing on three days rest. Players still gimping from the last game. One team has to travel and has practiced only once.

So, the Texans have some things going for them tonight against the 2-0 Carolina Panthers. The short week generally benefits the home team, in the sense that it’s at least a little less gawdawful than it is for the visitor.

NRG will rock. You want Houston to love you? Play like rabid badgers. Through two games, the Texans have been eminently lovable. They get after it. They clearly like each other, They clearly like and respect their new coach. They clearly have fun playing football.

Yeah, Houston can win tonight. If Tyrod Taylor were healthy, I’d pick the Texans. But “if” has no place or meaning in the NFL. Rookie third round quarterback Davis Mills will get his first start. Unfortunately for him, it will be against the league’s hottest defense.

The Texans must protect Mills. Lotsa luck. The Panthers already have ten sacks. That’s tops in the NFL.

The Texans must run the ball effectively, something they did in that opening win against the Jags and failed to do in the tough Week Two loss in Cleveland. But Carolina is giving up just 46.5 rushing yards per game. You guessed it. That’s #1 in the league.

Scoring defense? The Panthers have allowed only 10.5 points per game. Yep. That leads the NFL.

Carolina is plus-4 in takeaway/giveaway margin. I guess they’re slacking. Because that’s only second best in the league.

Fast start? The Panthers get off like top-fuel dragsters. Carolina outscored the Jets and Saints 33-0 in the first half of those games, while outgaining those opponents in first half yards 572-172.

So the Texans will somehow have to avoid getting boat-raced early. That will likely require forcing some turnovers. There’s reason to be encouraged there. Houston has already collected five takeaways, including four interceptions. Those numbers exceed what the Texans posted in the entire 2020 season.

My question is, “Are the Panthers good enough to be 3-0?”

In this case, yes. Carolina 24, Houston 17.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.