Houston: "Meltdown" is sugarcoating the Moo Cows' situation. Since reaching 11-1 to open the 2012 season, Houston has gone 4-18, held without a touchdown on five occasions. At the 11-1 juncture in 2012, Houston went to New England for a "Monday Night Football" contest that Texans faithful viewed as the team's debutante party -- a chance for the nation to see in prime time what the Texans could do. Houston was blown off the field, trailing 42-7 early in the fourth quarter. The Texans' confidence was shattered and has not recovered.
Now the Texans enter 2014 with Ryan Fitzpatrick, who owns a 27-49-1 career record as a starting quarterback, backed by Case Keenum, who's never won an NFL start, and rookie Tom Savage, who didn't play anywhere in 2011 and 2012. What could go wrong?
The Texans are in meltdown status despite one of the most overstaffed front offices in sports -- or perhaps because of the overstaffed front office. Houston lists a chairman and CEO, a vice chairman and COO, a general manager, a president, two executive vice presidents, two senior vice presidents, six regular vice presidents, six senior directors, 13 regular directors, a controller, a general counsel and a senior adviser. This, despite the fact that 85 percent of the team's revenue comes from the league's master television contract, into which the club has no input. If Wal-Mart had the same ratio of top management executives to income as the Houston Texans, Wal-Mart would employ 63,000 senior executives.
Tick, Tick, Tick -- '24' or '60 Minutes'? The "24" franchise is up to nine seasons and 204 episodes, meaning Jack Bauer has fired that special gun that never needs reloading for more episodes than Jerry Seinfeld and Julia Louis-Dreyfus fired one-liners. The latest iteration dropped to the status of a summer show, and took place in an alternate-reality London.
That imaginary city is a favorite destination of pop lit from Mary Poppins to Harry Potter to steampunk. In the alternative-reality London of "24," driving scenes repeatedly showed central London rolling by the windows without the car ever so much as slowing down, let alone stopping for a light or traffic. If you haven't been lately, London is the most traffic-clogged metropolis in all the world. But by the show's clock, it took Bauer four minutes to drive from an industrial area in East London to the United States embassy in Westminster, and three minutes to drive from central London to suburban Hampton, using an M3 motorway on which there was not a single other car. Jack and Chloe found a grainy CCTV image of an evildoer boarding the Tube. After the train departed, they jumped into a Volvo and reached the next station before the train arrived, racing down London streets where there were no other cars in sight.