Colts-Texans, Week 5 — Four Things to Watch For
The Texans (and, perhaps most notably, Andre Johnson) return to NRG Stadium tonight
I'm not going to lead in with a paragraph about how this is the "biggest game of the Texans' season," or how they can take over first place in the AFC South potentially (with a 2-3 record, no less!), or how ridiculous it is that this team continually plays its "biggest game of the year" in October most seasons. You know all of these things.
Instead, I will start with a moment of silence. A moment of silence for Texans nose tackle Vince Wilfork, who signed here in the offseason thinking that he was coming to a rising football team, ready to break through into the postseason, in a land where the barbecue is magical. Thus far, the barbecue is the only thing that's lived up to the hype (I hope).
How painful is a 1-3 start for Vince Wilfork? Well, it's not just painful because the big man is coming over from the defending Super Bowl champions. It goes deeper than that. Did you know that in Big Vin's 11 years with the Pats that their record in the regular season was 136-40? Did you know that in three seasons at Miami in college, Vince played on teams that went a combined 35-3? So in one month as a Texan, Wilfork has been part of as many losses as he was in THREE YEARS at Miami.
Welcome to Houston, Vince! Now, please bow your heads….. and pray for the cow Vince is about to devour…..
So some storylines to watch tonight as the 2-2 Colts come to town
4. Andre Johnson comes home
Most Texan fans have had this date circled on the football calendar since April, in large part because Andre Johnson is making his return visit to Houston. Andre signed with the Colts after the Texans reportedly told him last spring that his role with the team would entail about 40 catches. Andre Johnson took this as a slap in the face. (To be fair, what he saw as a slap in the face could've just been Bill O'Brien's honest assessment of this crappy offense. "No Andre, I think you're amazing! But do you really think Mallett can complete 40 passes to ANYBODY?!?") Whatever the case, Johnson is on pace for 28 catches as a Colt, and appears to be shot. He will get a nice ovation and probably a video montage, and then 12 more games and one aborted Colts playoff run from now, we can begin to debate whether Andre belongs in Canton. The end.
3. Pummel Andrew Luck
I have no idea if Andrew Luck is playing tonight or not. Last week, Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was playing all sorts of coy on Luck's shoulder injury. Then late in the week, the Colts snuck in a signing of a third string QB (Josh Johnson), and next thing you knew, there was a Sunday announcement that Matt Hasselbeck would be starting against Jacksonville. Now, this week Luck has been practicing, Pagano has been coy, and they re-signed Josh Johnson again. Maybe the biggest indicator that something is up with Luck's shoulder still is the Texans' being a 2.5 point favorite. Hmmmmmm…...
2. Arian Foster ... goin' with the flow
I'm not gonna lie, one of the biggest disappointments of Hard Knocks was that Arian Foster was pretty much gone for all of it. He was like one of those characters on a drama that was often referred to, but never on screen. Like Tony Soprano's dad. Or Chuck Cunningham for like two episodes of Happy Days. But Arian Foster is back now, and according to him, he's ready to "go with the flow." Well, hopefully that flow includes his usual performance against the Colts. In seven full games against Indy in his career, Foster is averaging 137 yards a game on six yards per carry. Flow, Arian. Flow like crazy.
1. TV ratings on Friday
The overriding Houston story in Thursday night is the fact that this is maybe the greatest sports watching night we've seen in this town, possibly ever. Certainly, it's the best one we've had since I started in radio here back in 2007. The Texans are trying to save their season against their arch rivals, who have the Texans' most iconic (non-Watt) player in history on their team now. The Astros are playing in a divisional round of the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Hell, even the Coogs, undefeated thus far, have a nationally televised in state tussle with SMU at home tonight! Ratings prediction — Texans will win the night locally in a close one.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.