JJ Watt Out for Season – Impact on Houston Texans Betting

jj-watt-back-injuryThe Houston Texans got the worst news possible: J.J. Watt will likely miss the rest of the 2016 season after re-injuring his back in Week 3 against the New England Patriots.

The Texans placed Watt on injured reserve, meaning he could either rehab and try to return for a late-season playoff run, or get back surgery and end his year.

Coach Bill O’Brien told NFL.com that he has no idea what route Watt will take, but the team will soldier on without the 3-time Defensive Player of the Year.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge ahead,” said O’Brien. “Obviously, we all feel bad for him.”

Watt originally herniated a disk in July, and it was thought that he’d miss 10 weeks. However, the 27-year-old made a miraculous recovery and suited up for the season opener.

But after missing the entire preseason, Watt had a sluggish start to the year, getting just one tackle in the opener against the Chicago Bears.

But Watt looked like himself against the Kansas City Chiefs, collecting 1.5 sacks. The Week 3 contest against the Patriots was a different story, though, as he again managed a single tackle and no sacks.

How Does Watt’s Injury Affect Texans Betting?

jj-watt-back-patriotsWith Watt set to miss the rest of the season, Houston will definitely be a different team. After all, Watt has been terrorizing opposing quarterbacks throughout his career in Houston, tallying 76 sacks in 83 games.

So where does this leave the team?

The good news for Houston is that they play in the AFC South, which is quite possibly the league’s weakest division. They’re tied with the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans for first with a 1-2 record, while the Jacksonville Jaguars have started the season 0-3.

So when the Texans play their in-division competition without Watt, chances are that he won’t affect their betting lines tremendously. Once they get out of the division, though, Houston may be overvalued on some lines with their best player possibly done for the season.

Nevertheless, the Texans still boast a talented defense that includes the linebacking crew of Benardrick McKinney, Jadeveon Clowney, John Simon, and Whitney Mercilus. Outside of the Patriots game, this group helps form one of the league’s best pass rushes, even with Watt not fully himself.

So when you’re betting on Houston, keep in mind that Watt isn’t the only player who can do some damage on defense.

In Week 4, we have Houston at -4.5 as they take on the Titans at home.

What About the Future of Watt?

jj-wattWatt is now set to miss a large number of games, which is heartbreaking for a player who’s never missed a single contest in six NFL seasons. But the truth is that he probably needs this after a string of injuries over the last year.

It started when he tore several ab muscles off the bone in Houston’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in last year’s playoffs. He wondered if he would play again after this, but managed to rehab and get ready for the 2016 season.

Disaster struck again, though, when he herniated a disc in July. This is the same injury that he aggravated against New England.

Since his back and abdominal injuries, Watt hasn’t been the same dominant player that garnered rare MVP attention for a defensive player.

Watt has averaged 0.92 sacks per game in his career, which is the highest rate for any player since this stat began being recorded.

According to CBS Sports, Watt’s dad, John, worried that the July back injury may have a permanent effect.

“He’s so used to coming back from something like that quickly, and realizing a couple weeks out from the surgery that ‘Wow, this might not be good,'” said John. “At even three to four weeks out from the surgery, for him to realize that this is gonna take way longer than I thought and this may be something that may be relatively permanent.

“My wife and I both commented, ‘You can see it in his eyes, he was a little scared,'” John explained. “And certainly there’s nothing that says he’s fully back, he’s still going to work hard. Hopefully he’ll be able to comeback to where he was. For a while there, my wife and I looked at each other and said, ‘this is real serious.'”

Now on injured reserve, Watt has some time to heal the back that’s been bothering him since the summer.

As for the Texans, they’ll try to find ways to keep winning this season without the league’s best defensive player for most of, if not the entire, season.

2016 AFC South Betting Preview

andrew-luck-playoffsLast season, the Indianapolis Colts were overwhelming favorites to win the weakest division in football. But injuries to Andrew Luck, coupled with his ineffective early season play, saw the Colts stumble to an 8-8 record.

The Houston Texans took full advantage of these struggles by putting together a 9-7 season and winning the division.

The Jacksonville Jaguars showed some improvement, especially on offense, which powered them to a 5-11 record – far better than anybody expected.

The Tennessee Titans are in full-on rebuilding mode after a tough 3-13 season. Will they improve in 2016? And who will win the division?

Let’s answer these questions by discussing the AFC South and looking at each team’s betting odds.

AFC South Betting Odds to Win Division (from GTBets)

Houston +200
Indianapolis +135
Jacksonville +300
Tennessee +800

1. Indianapolis Colts: Projected Record 10-6

After an outstanding campaign in 2014 that elevated him to the status of elite quarterbacks, Andrew Luck took a step back last season amid injuries and inconsistency. But he’s now had an entire offseason to heal and should return to his 2014 form, rather than what we saw last year.

ty-hilton-touchdownThis team faces questions on both the offensive and defensive line, but Luck is a rare talent that can still carry a mediocre team. In fact, just two years ago they were within one victory of the Super Bowl.

T.Y. Hilton will certainly be glad to have Luck back. Although turning in a solid season with 1,124 receiving yards and 5 TDs, Hilton has the potential for more with a quarterback who can throw deep.

The defense returns some solid pieces like D’Qwell Jackson, Vontae Davis, T.J. Green, and the ageless Robert Mathis. But the front seven has some holes and a lack of quality depth that leave questions about this unit.

This looks like a case of the Colts going as far as Luck can take them. If the offensive line provides enough protection, then Indianapolis should win the division.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars: Projected Record 7-9

It’s hard to call a 5-11 season a breakthrough, but Jacksonville definitely exceeded expectations while showcasing an explosive offense. But the time for promise and potential have passed for this team since Gus Bradley, now in his fourth year, needs to produce some wins.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville JaguarsBlake Bortles had his best season, throwing for 4,428 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions. Allen Robinson was the beneficiary of Bortles’ improvement, tallying 1,400 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. Allen Hurns also had a strong season with 1,031 receiving yards and 10 TDs.

The big challenge for Jacksonville will be replicating the same success on the other side of the ball. They have young players with potential in Dante Fowler, Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. But will this potential turn into stops in 2016?

We think that this will be another learning year for the young Jaguars, and one that should result in more victories than the 2015 campaign.

3. Houston Texans: Projected Record 7-9

After a 2-5 start and massive quarterback issues, most people wrote the Houston Texans off. But they put together an impressive 7-2 run to close out the season and win the South. However, things didn’t go too well for them after they were dominated 30-0 by the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wild Card round.

Bryan Hoyer – one of four quarterbacks to start for Houston – threw four interceptions in this game and convinced the Texans that they needed to upgrade the position. The result was signing Brock Osweiler to a 4-year, $72-million deal in hopes that the former Broncos QB can shore up the position.

deandre-hopkins-texansIt’s unclear if Osweiler is truly the long-term answer at the position, despite the money that Houston threw at him. But he at least has All-Pro WR DeAndre Hopkins to help him along the way. Houston also drafted receivers Braxton Miller and Will Fuller, in addition to signing RB Lamar Miller in free agency.

Despite the offseason moves, the defense will no doubt anchor this team thanks to star defensive end J.J. Watt. The only problem is that Watt has missed the preseason following offseason back surgery. This means that players like Vince Wilfork, Brian Cushing, and Jadeveon Clowney need to step up in the early part of the season.

While Houston has made upgrades to improve their team, we don’t know if Osweiler is going to be the answer under center – especially with how badly he’s played in the preseason. That said, don’t expect Houston to repeat as division champs.

4. Tennessee Titans: Projected Record 5-11

Marcus Mariota didn’t have eye-popping stats last year, with 2,818 and 19 touchdowns in 14 games. But he also showed some poise by tossing just 10 interceptions despite having few weapons to help him.

marcus-mariotaIf Mariota is to take the next step, he’ll need some help, which the Titans hope that they’ve provided by trading for RB DeMarco Murray and signing wideout Rishard Matthews. They also drafted Jake Conklin at No. 8 overall to shore up the right tackle position, and RB Derick Henry to spell Murray.

Based on the trade for Murray and the drafting of Henry, Tennessee is trying to become a running team. How this works out will be anybody’s guess since Murray has a lot to prove after a down season in Philadelphia. But the Titans have at least made some bold moves to help their anemic running game.

As for the defense, Jurrell Casey doesn’t get the attention that most D-ends do, but he was easily the Titans’ MVP last season. If Derrick Morgan can get back to the pass-rushing level that he showed up until last year, then this team could be excellent at pressuring quarterbacks.

Overall, there are still holes for this team to fill in 2016. But Tennessee should at least be a little bit better.

Houston Texans Betting: Jadeveon Clowney drawing Major Criticism

jadeveon-clowney-texansThe Houston Texans were supposed to feature a nightmare pass rush for opposing quarterbacks. First off, they have JJ Watt, a mammoth 6’6″, 290-pound defensive end who’s generally regarded as the NFL’s best overall defensive player. And he was supposed to be backed up by outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, who at 6’5″, 266 pounds, runs a blistering 4.53 forty for his size.

Unfortunately, Clowney has had no impact on the Houston Texans team this year. He’s missed six games due to a knee injury and had just one tackle in his return against Tennessee last week. This past Sunday he missed a game against the Eagles due to illness and caused some controversy when he may have liked a picture on Instagram during the contest.

Missing yet another game combined with the Instagram fiasco has now brought more heat from around the league. Nobody was more critical than Warren Sapp and LaDainian Tomlinson on Monday’s episode of Total Access Pregame. “We expect to see you on Sunday afternoon young man,” Sapp said. “Football is a great game in America and we all gather around to see the best of the best for 60 minutes each Sunday. And you’re disappointing us, and you’re wearing out your coaches and everybody down in Houston.”

NFL: 2014 NFLPA Rookie PremiereTomlinson believes that Clowney’s $22.3 million contract could be a huge source behind his lack of focus. “That’s a character flaw to me,” he said. “One thing we always try to preach about young athletes is giving them too much early, that’s what happens. They don’t want to work for it anymore.”

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport was also critical of Clowney on NFL GameDay Morning. “What they want is for him to start showing some maturity and learn to play through these some of these ailments,” said Rapoport. “As a source just mentioned to me, this is really the first time Clowney has faced any sort of injury adversity – didn’t really happen in college – and they want him to try to play through it in the NFL, but they’re frustrated with their No. 1 overall pick.”

As for the guy who matters most, Texans coach Bill O’Brien, he didn’t seem overly willing to talk about the situation. In fact, he indicated that the whole Instagram matter wasn’t even worth discussing after stating the following:

Yeah, he and I, like, we tweeted back and forth (Sunday) night. I went on Spacebook. He went on Twitter. … I mean, come – I don’t know, I don’t. You know? This guy wants to play football. He’s trying to get better to get back on the field. I’m not going down this Twitter road. I don’t even know what that is really, to be honest with you,” he went on. “Instagram: My kid was trying to talk to me about it last night. Like, ‘This is what Instagram is Daddy.’ I don’t know. We’re moving on from that. We’re moving on.

The Texans slide into their bye week with a 4-5 record and a falling chance of making the postseason. They are losers of 4 of their past 5 games and travel to face the 5-4 Cleveland Browns this Sunday. Contests against Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Baltimore loom ahead over the next two months. So they’re going to need everybody to step up, including Clowney. He’s now over the knee injury that sidelined him for six games and he has almost half a season to make an impact. But that’s not going to happen if he continues missing action with illnesses and worrying more about Instagram than learning from the games.