Texans, Falcons in position for early clinchings

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“The good teams I’ve been around,” said coach Gary Kubiak, who was with two Super Bowl winners in Denver, “that is the way they focus because they don’t get concerned about who they play, where they play. They get concerned about how they play.

“They know that if they play good football, we’re going to have an excellent chance to win, week in and week out, and they’re really hard on each other and pushing each other. We’ll see over a period of time, but it’s a good start.”

Arizona’s start, built on powerful defense, opportunistic offense and strong special teams, is its best since 1974 when the Cardinals played in St. Louis. They’ll need to keep it up to keep pace with the 49ers, who use similar skills and have the added edge of being a good road team.

But who’s to doubt these “Cardiac Cardinals,” whose knack for winning the close ones, including their last five overtime games, all at home, is a trait every team envies.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” star receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “You go around town and take your kids to school, eat at restaurants, the whole valley is behind us and it’s a fun feeling. … There’s nothing better than being 4-0 (except) being 5-0.”

And there’s nothing worse than 0-4, an ignominious spot shared by the Browns (no surprise) and the Saints (shocking).

Cleveland is young, rebuilding with 15 rookies on the opening-day roster, and undergoing a change in ownership. Patience needs to be the keyword there.

No chance of that in New Orleans, where angst over the bounty scandal and its resulting suspensions has turned to anger at just about everyone in the NFL outside the Big Easy. The Saints come close, but can’t make the decisive plays and have more losses this season than in all of 2011.

The suspension of coach Sean Payton for the season has been a harder hit than anyone projected, and the defense, already suspect, has been a sieve, allowing the most points in the NFC.

After the latest loss, at Green Bay, words of optimism crept out of interim coach Aaron Kramer’s mouth. From Drew Braes, too.

“Things just aren’t going our way,” tight end Jimmy Graham said. “You look back: `09, everything went our way. Even last year, everything went our way for the most part. It’s just … somehow we have to turn it over. We have to overcome these things and just stay positive.”

They are whistling in the graveyard.

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