Does J.J. Watt Injury Sink Texans’ Super Bowl Hopes?
The Houston Texans learned the worst on Tuesday night, as the team was informed that star defensive end J.J. Watt had re-injured his surgically repaired back in their Thursday Night Football clash with the New England Patriots.
Watt, who had rushed back from summer back surgery, hadn’t looked right through his first three games, an uncharacteristic stretch where he recorded 1.5 sacks, but didn’t seem to be making his normal impact.
BREAKING: J.J. Watt reinjured his back and likely will be placed on injured reserve Wednesday, a source confirmed: https://t.co/VQ321c7gNt
— ESPN (@espn) September 28, 2016
Watt’s recent back issue is a serious matter, considering he recently had surgery and will now likely go under the knife again. The news prompted the Texans to place the star defender on injured reserve, and it is unknown if Watt will be able to make his way back to the field again in 2016.
Watt isn’t just a big name. He’s been an absolute terror for opposing offenses. He sniffs out the run, he can help clog lanes at the line, he swats down low throws and he puts elite pressure on the quarterback.
That might be an understatement. In his four full years in the league, Watt had registered a whopping 73 career sacks (plus 1.5 this year), which puts him second to only the great Reggie White:
J.J. Watt had 74.5 sacks in his first 5 seasons from 2011-15. Only Hall-of-Famer Reggie White had more pic.twitter.com/cdFusFlPGe
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 28, 2016
Watt wasn’t just a numbers guy, either. He brought so much to the table that Houston was consistently a winner with him around, even in years where they had questionable coaching and an erratic offense.
The 2015 season was a perfect example of Watt’s impact, as he battled through numerous injuries to post 17.5 sacks and lead one of the top defenses in the entire league. Despite having a drowning offense led by the pedestrian Brian Hoyer, Watt got the job done enough on the other side of the field to get the AFC South division title and get the Texans back into the playoffs.
That’s just been the norm with Watt in the lineup, of course, as the Texans have secured three AFC South crowns in his five NFL seasons – a run in which he had yet to miss even a single game:
Since J.J. Watt's arrival in Houston, the Texans have won three division titles and two playoff games. pic.twitter.com/EctFcmiy5G
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 28, 2016
Writing on the Wall
The saddest part of the J.J. Watt injury news is that this could have all been avoided. Watt was surely keeping his team’s start to the season in mind when he rushed back from an injury no one should ever mess around with.
However, instead of sitting out the first 2-3 weeks to make sure he was truly ready to handle the rigors of the league again, Watt has now put Houston’s entire season at risk. Few can blame him, as he was merely trying to be on the field for his team and clearly he took playing in all 16 games each year very seriously.
That devotion end up biting Watt in the end, and ultimately, it could also hurt Houston in a big way.
Losing J.J. Watt for most of the year could still be survivable. For one, this is still a pretty good defense. Whitney Mercilus has stepped up his game in a huge way, Jadeveon Clowney could finally live up to this potential and Watt’s tops backups – Devon Still and Antonio Smith – aren’t exactly scrubs.
There is no making up for or replacing a J.J. Watt. We can all agree with that. However, the coaching and talent is still very strong on the defensive side of the ball and there is real hope that the Texans can regroup and still remain one of the nastier defensive units.
On top of a still effective defense, there is the hope that Houston’s offense can finally get it going. Houston has seen just mixed results from new quarterback Brock Osweiler, while the offense as a whole hasn’t come close to meeting it’s potential – especially after getting shutout on the road in week three.
Betting on the Texans
It’s going to be tough to trust the Texans from here, we get that. However, they still have some talent on defense, their offense still has potential and who knows, maybe they end up getting Watt back later in the year.
Not knowing whether or not J.J. Watt returns in 2016 probably keeps us from betting on the Texans when it comes to Super Bowl odds. Houston currently has just +3300 odds to win it all in 2016, and to be frank, that’s probably not happening even with a healthy Watt. It might be fun to throw a flier bet their way in case the offense takes off and Watt returns for the playoffs, but overall betting on the Texans winning the Super Bowl doesn’t feel like the way to go this year.
Houston is still in play as a weekly bet and they’re absolutely in the mix to win the AFC South, which they still have the best odds (+110) for. The Texans may be down their best player, but they still have a nice 2-1 start and the Titans, Jaguars and Colts haven’t looked all that threatening.
Overall, Houston’s Super Bowl odds take a hit, but this could still be a playoff team due to a weak division and solid talent on both sides of the ball. Bet accordingly.
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