Clowney will need to keep playing at an elite level for the Texans' defense to survive in 2017.
Clowney will need to keep playing at an elite level for the Texans' defense to survive in 2017.
Photo by Eric Sauseda

NFL Football, Week 9: Colts-Texans — Four Things to Watch For

Full disclosure — I had this preview all typed up and ready to go Thursday morning. I like to be out ahead of things and head into Friday not having to worry about writing. So I had a whole preview for the Colts game that talked about the 14-point spread and Deshaun Watson going for another game where the Texans score 30 or more points.

And then Thursday afternoon Watson tears his ACL and my preview crumbles like dry cow manure, along with the Texans' season. And the intro to this post became a total redo.

I'm so depressed about this, I don't even know how to treat this game or the rest of the schedule. Do I act like the Texans are playing for anything? They are going back to stinking offensively, and back to losing games in horrific fashion, and the worst part is that they don't even have their first round pick, because at least that would give all the losing that's about to happen some side benefit.

No, they traded that pick so they could draft Deshaun Watson... a great trade, so great that the sting of losing Watson partially mutes the exhilaration of a World Series win. Think about that.

Now, let's get this preview over with...

4. Anthem protocol
As we know, a vast majority of the Texans decided to take a knee last weekend in Seattle, in the wake of Bob McNair's "inmates running the prison" comment. The most vocal detractor of McNair, offensive tackle Duane Brown, is now a Seahawk, so it will be interesting to see if the team keeps its protest going, or if this was just a one week demonstration that they were angry over words. For what it's worth, this game is set to serve as a salute to the troops and former president George H.W. Bush is set to be the honorary team captain. So all that kneeling? Could get a little bit awkward.

3. QB depression
The Texans replaced Deshaun Watson's spot on the roster with Matt McGloin on Thursday afternoon. If you can type up a more depressing sentence that doesn't involve natural disaster, death or Brock Osweiler, you're a more creative wordsmith than I am. If you want a feel for what we are in for over the next two months, go back and watch the first half of the Jacksonville game in Week One. Have the Prozac handy.

2. Contain Hilton
Actually, there are a few players on this Colts team who qualify as "non-scrubs," and wide receiver T.Y. Hilton is one of them, although his stats recently, with no Andrew Luck, are way down. In his past three games, Hilton has caught five passes total on 19 targets for just 61 yards. We know the old Hilton is in there somewhere because FOUR weeks ago he had 177 yards against the 49ers. Hilton has historically been a Texan killer with Luck as his quarterback, and if the Colts are going to stay in this game, they will probably need a big play or two from their sixth year wide out. Fortunately for Hilton, the Texans have been giving up plenty of those big plays in recent weeks. The secondary of the Texans needs to dial in and focus on containing Hilton.

1. Clowney comin'
I said last week that Clowney needs to play like a No. 1 one overall pick for this defense to even be passable. Well, last week Clowney was the best defensive player at his position in the league...and the defense STILL gave up 41 points. In this game on Sunday, if Clowney can cause a turnover and/or pick up a couple of sacks, the Colts aren't nearly as equipped to overcome in-game turmoil as, say, the Seahawks, Chiefs or Patriots. Clowney needs to maintain his high level of play, and if his choice of Halloween costume is any indication, we can hope his play matches his sense of humor...

SPREAD: Texans -7
PREDICTION: Texans 17, Colts 16
RECORD: 5-2 SU, 4-3 ATS

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.

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