Texans vs. Colts: Pregame talk with Horseshoe Heroes

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Dec 6, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Andre Johnson (81) makes a catch against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

RG: I wondered a couple weeks back if the Colts were too dependent on players past their prime by starting Frank Gore, Andre Johnson and Matt Hasselbeck (who is good in short spurts but not long-term at 40). Do you think this is an issue that may keep them out of the playoffs, or am I overstating it?

ER: There are a few ways to look at this. Jim Irsay wanted to build a team that wasn’t as dependent on the QB, but he has one now that is way more reliant on Andrew Luck than it ever was on Peyton Manning. Luck plays poorly, they lose.

Gore hasn’t played poorly, but there are concerns (specifically with fumbles) and the offensive line has been poor all year. Couple that with opponents crowding the box, the Colts not being smarter about how and when they run the ball, and the lack of much of a vertical passing attack and its tough to get a run game going.

Some have said that Johnson was done after last season, and we might be seeing more of that. I also don’t think the Colts have used him properly at all. He should be between the hashmarks and utilized more like a tight end, but he gets lined up out wide far too often.

Hasselbeck gave the Colts two good game, and four bad ones, with the team posting a 4-2 record in that span. Far better than anyone expected, but it also says a lot about the opponents in that stretch (the Falcons and Bucs are bad teams, for instance). It was far more likely that Hasselbeck would slowly get worn down behind a bad offensive line and were seeing that happen as he keeps racking up injuries.

Luck won’t be back this week, but if the Colts can’t win Sunday, I don’t know why you’d bring him back at all. This game is basically the season, and I don’t believe Hasselbeck will last the whole game.

RG: The Texans defense is finally clicking like many thought it would early in the year. J.J. Watt is always on his game, but Jadeveon Clowney has three sacks in the past two games. Will Indy find a way to negate this pass rush, or will whoever lines up under center be under fire?

ER: The Colts might get left tackle Anthony Castonzo back from injury, and while its a nice upgrade, it won’t suddenly make the offensive line a steel wall. I expect anyone under center to be under fire against that front seven. Clowney coming into his own is a scary thought, and Watt is always terrifying. They’ve had good game plans in the past for dealing with Watt, but the way that defense is playing doesn’t bode well for the Colts.

Next: What about the Texans offense?