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?
With 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?
Watt 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.