Week 5 hasn’t been pretty for NFL betting. First, Odell Beckham Jr. broke his ankle in a particularly gruesome injury during a weekend that the New York Giants will want to forget. His season is over, and he’ll need surgery to correct the injury. At this stage, his future is unknown. However, that wasn’t the only huge franchise loss for the weekend, and just hours later, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was taken off the field, clearly in agonizing pain. It has now emerged that Watt’s season is also over, as he’s sustained a tibial plateau fracture.

The risk of injury always exists in the NFL, but no player or team wants to know that their season is over. For Watt, it will be particularly devastating, considering he only played three games in 2016, after being put on the injury list and receiving back surgery. What exactly happened to J.J. Watt, and what will happen to the team going forward? Anyone who was betting on the Texans for this season will want to know the details.

A Serious Injury, Without the Drama

When Odell Beckham Jr. broke his ankle, the incident was noticeable, dramatic, and gruesome. When J.J. Watt went down, things were much less obvious, and it looked more like a simple misstep as he rushed the passer. However, as he was taken from the field clearly in pain, it became clear that something serious had happened.

One thing contributing to the injury was Watt’s size and weight. He’s known for his speed, power, and physical presence in the game, and that’s exactly what worked against him in this accident. A misstep led to him falling forward onto his left foot, with every bit of weight and momentum going through his muscle and bone. ACL tears can occur through similar circumstances, so this is not something that is completely unusual.

However, the severity of the injury is not common. In most cases, the ligament will give way before there’s any bone damage, but in this case, the bone took the full impact, and obviously gave way first. Medical experts who have analyzed the footage and who are familiar with football injuries, predict that this injury will be season ending, and that J.J. Watt may require plates and screws to be implanted. Watt has been relatively quiet after the injury, but did leave a short message on Twitter for fans and the team on Monday night. He said, “I can’t sugarcoat it, I am devastated. All I want to do is be out there on that field for my teammates and this city. I’m sorry.”

What’s Next for J.J. Watt?

J.J. Watt is clearly one of the best defensive players in the history of the NFL. It’s tragic that he hasn’t always had the chance to show that, and now it’s likely that he will never be able to realize his full potential. He’ll be 29 when he returns to the field next season. Bill O’Brien, head coach of the Houston Texans, confirmed on Monday that Watt wouldn’t be returning to the field in 2017.

For the second year in a row, his season has been cut short, and these have been two of the years that should have been the prime of his football career. With his size and physique, and the punishment that he has taken since joining the Texans in 2011, it’s not likely that his fitness will hold up forever. Watt is an absolute professional and a determined player, but determination won’t overcome the passage of time, especially not when you’re 6ft 5in and 290lb of raw skill and performance.

JJ Watt

How Will this Impact the Team?

For the Houston Texans, losing J.J. Watt is a massive blow. He is the signature player in their defense. In some teams we talk about star players, and Watt is definitely a star. However, he’s also fundamental to the whole way that the Texans defense operates. Without him, we could see a significant decline in their 2017 campaign.

The worst news is that he’s not the only loss. Whitney Mercilus was taken out in the same game with a torn pectoral muscle. Mercilus, like Watt, is one of the key defenders in the team. Arguably, these two are the best that the team had to offer. Without them, we can see hard times ahead, at least where the defense is concerned.

Just like last year, the team are going to have to build a unit to replace Watt and Mercilus. These players can make enough of a difference with their own respective talents. They have the ability to carry some other players. Without them, there will need to be more options and more depth.

Bill O’Brien said that “These guys that are there, they’re going to have to step in and… it’s going to be multiple guys. You don’t replace J.J. Watt or Whitney Mercilus with one guy. That’s just ridiculous. It’s going to be a lot of different guys that are going to chip in to help, and I think the coaching staff needs to do a great job, too.”

 

The Texans have a 2 – 3 – 0 record for this season and will now fight an uphill battle to win in the AFC South. Without their two best defenders, they’ll be competing with the Jaguars, a team that has managed a better record for the season and a better points differential. While the Texans will likely still have the edge on both the Titans and the Colts, the Jaguars have been performing well enough to make them a safe favorite for the division.

It will be interesting to see who O’Brien puts in rotation to cover for Mercilus and Watt. The Texans ultimately lost to the Chiefs on the weekend, but their upcoming game against the Browns should be a chance for a win. The true measure of the hit they’ve taken will come on October 29th, when the Texans play the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. With the strong offense that Seattle has been displaying, it will immediately let us know just how much trouble Houston will be in without two of the sport’s best defenders.

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