Sean Pendergast

NFL Football, Week 13: Texans-Titans — Four Things To Watch For

Jadeevon Clowney will face a tough test against bookend Pro Bowl caliber tackles.
Jadeevon Clowney will face a tough test against bookend Pro Bowl caliber tackles. Photo by Eric Sauseda
As I've mentioned here, once Deshaun Watson went down with his knee injury after Week 8 of the NFL season, I subconsciously stopped following where the Texans were in the standings. Two weeks and two losses followed that devastating injury, and I was even more entrenched in my denial of their plight. Then a funny thing happened — the Texans won a game. They beat the Cardinals... and I looked at the standings, and lo and behold, the AFC was so piss poor that a 4-6 Texans squad still had playoff life!

Well, after Monday's 23-16 loss in Baltimore, let's just say I knew I shouldn't have looked at the AFC standings after the Texans beat the Cardinals a couple weeks ago! I KNEW IT! I set myself up for nothing but misery, largely because Tom Savage was still intimately involved in the Texans' fate.

And if you're on the side of Tom Savage, you need to know that he is The Dream Crusher, plain and simple. So now we are onto the part of the schedule where the 4-7 Texans are playing out the string, territory that is new to Bill O'Brien as a head coach, as his first three seasons all saw relevant games being played in December. Not this year.

So what do we watch for this Sunday against Tennessee? Let's try to find four things. (Wish me luck!)

4. Bizarro serendipity
As futile as it feels to trot Tom Savage out there as your quarterback, Texan Fan, you should also know that the stars align about as poorly situationally as they could in a match-up like this one. (Yes, it's even MORE futile that I thought!) For one, the Texans are going back out on the road following a Monday night road game, after which, by the way, they didn't get home until 6  the next morning because of plane trouble. So an already short week was cut even shorter. Also, the Texans are heading back out on the road to face a team on whom they hung 57 points during the height of Deshaun-Mania. The Texans will be lucky to hang a third of that on the Titans this Sunday. It's one thing for the football gods to line up against you when you have the weapons to fight — this Texans team is entering a gun fight with a toothpick at quarterback. Speaking of which....

3. Yates in the bullpen
... could Bill O'Brien pull the trigger on ousting Savage from his starting QB spot? The Texans' head coach intimated as much on Tuesday at his press conference:

Can you pinpoint why QB Tom Savage is making bad decisions at this stage?
“Really, I can’t. If I could, I would tell you we would have a quick solution. But like I said, we’re going to sit down and watch the tape and see if we can get it corrected. It has to get corrected because if not, we’re going to have to go in a different direction, but we’re going to really sit down and study it and try to make the correction.”
So there is a chance we could see Part III of the T.J. Yates Story this Sunday, and honestly, with the Texans playoff hopes being merely mathematical at this point, why the hell not? If anyone can pull off a Festivus miracle it is one Touchdown Jesus Yates!

2. Clowney versus whichever-Pro-Bowl-tackle
It was fun watching Jadeveon Clowney wreck shop on a nationally televised game on Monday night and hearing Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden discuss Clowney like they were spotting Bigfoot. Um, guys, this is what he's been since the middle of last season, after J.J. Watt's second back surgery. In a weird way, when it comes to a contract extension this offseason, it could be that Watt (and to a lesser extent, Whitney Mercilus) going out injured could be the best thing to happen to Clowney's checking account. Clowney is doing the most damage he's done in his career with the least amount of help, and isn't that the definition of "value"? This weekend will be very interesting as the Titans have arguably the best offensive tackle duo in the league to throw at Clowney in Taylor Lewan and Jake Conklin.

1. J.J. Watt recovery videos
Speaking of Watt, when all else fails, and you just can't stomach the 2017 season any longer, you can watch his knee surgery recovery videos and dream of days to come.....

This is where we are, Texan Fans. Happy freaking Holidays.

SPREAD: Titans -7.5
PREDICTION: Titans 23, Texans 10
RECORD: 8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at and like him on Facebook at
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast