The one advantage of a potentially insignificant quarterbacking matchup between the Texans and Raiders on Saturday is that it might highlight two of the best young defensive players in the league -- Oakland linebacker Khalil Mack and Texans defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
And in Oakland, amid the absence of a premiere passer, some of Irvin's teammates are talking about Mack the way one might discuss an offensive MVP candidate.
"The guy's a walking Hall of Famer, the best in the business," Bruce Irvintold CSN Bay Area of Mack. "I'm blessed to be able to suit up with him week in and week out."
Mack, when asked about Clowney, had this to say:
"You can say he's grown, but you could tell he has that kind of capability," Mack said. "Just watching him last year, he was amazing against the run and came up just shy of all those sacks and all those different things. With time, you can tell that he's been blossoming and he's a hell of a player."
Clowney, as we saw in the last Oakland-Houston game, can shut down the Raiders running attack almost by himself (with a little help from Vince Wilfork and a heavy defensive personnel set up front). Latavius Murray had just 12 rushes for 33 yards back in November. As for Mack, he logged a sack and was not easily contained by just one offensive lineman. He nearly forced an early game-changing pick and his jams at the line also, at times, effected the release of Houston tight ends -- some of Brock Osweiler's favorite targets.
During the leadup to this game, many have convinced themselves that the quarterbacking will make the Wild Card matchup un-watchable. They've decided not to hone in on the defense -- to see what everyone else is raving about.