The Houston Texans will head to London this week for a Sunday matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars without their defensive leader and with a star quarterback nursing an eye issue. Defensive end J.J. Watt was lost for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle in last Sunday's 27-24 win over the Oakland Raiders, during which quarterback Deshaun Watson was kicked in the eye.
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Watson will play but has scaled things back a bit this week, including missing out on an appearance prior to Game 7 of the World Series in Houston. "I feel fine. It looks bad. It's going to look worse before it actually gets better, but I'm actually good," Watson told reporters. While this marks Houston's first ever game in London, the Jaguars will be playing overseas for the seventh consecutive season. They enter this one a game behind the Texans in the crowded AFC South after winning their last two games, including last Sunday's 29-15 triumph over the New York Jets.
TV: 9:30 a.m. ET, NFL Network. LINE: Texans -1.5. O/U: 46
ABOUT THE TEXANS (5-3): Watson, who has had to limit his exposure to light this week and could wear a visor Sunday, threw a touchdown on the play in which he was kicked and enters Week 9 tied for second in the NFL with 16. Carlos Hyde (544 rushing yards) leads the league's sixth-ranked ground game while star wideout DeAndre Hopkins has 20 catches for 215 yards over the last two games. Watt was second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss, trailing linebacker Whitney Mercilus in both categories.
ABOUT THE JAGUARS (4-4): Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew threw for 279 yards and three TDs in the win over the Jets as he seemingly solidifies his role as the starter with veteran Nick Foles (collarbone) set to return in a few weeks. "This is too big of a game to really think about anything else," Minshew told reporters when asked of the Foles situation. "We're sitting at a pivotal point, 4-4, playing a divisional opponent. This'll be the last time we get to play them, so it's definitely a big one." Minshew had 213 passing yards and a TD while running for a team-high 56 yards in the first meeting, a 13-12 win for Houston on Sept. 15.
1. Jacksonville ranks fifth in the league in rushing yards per game (136.5, fewer than three yards more than Houston's average) but last in rushing TDs with one.
2. Houston's next three opponents are division leaders with a combined record of 18-4.
3. The Texans have won 14 of the last 18 meetings.