Texans' loss of Watt could be boost for rest of AFC South

When the Houston Texans host the Tennessee Titans in the NFL on Sunday, it will be the first time since 2010 they'll play without J.J. Watt.

A person familiar with Watt's condition said the star defensive lineman had back surgery on Thursday and should miss the rest of the season. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced the surgery.

Watt was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday. He had previous surgery in July to repair a herniated disk, and missed training camp and Houston's four preseason games. He will miss a regular game for the first time in his career after starting 83 straight games since he was drafted in 2011.

In the mediocre AFC South, which Houston leads, losing its best player could bring the defending division champion back to the field " as uninspiring as the Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars might be.

With the Texans coming off a 27-0 no-show at New England, Tennessee ought to be feeling pretty frisky about its chances.

But Tennessee coach Mike Mularkey said their game plan won't change with Watt out, and knows Houston's defense has plenty of other threats, such as Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.

The Titans have struggled against Houston in the past two seasons, and have lost four in a row in the series.

Another lopsided relationship gets Sunday's action underway early, when the Jaguars host the Colts at Wembley. Indianapolis has won six of the past seven in this series, and has swept the Jaguars six times since becoming division foes in 2002.

A feature of the match will be Frank Gore, who needs 88 yards rushing to pass Hall of Famer Marcus Allen (12,243), Colts rushing leader Edgerrin James (12,246), Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (12,279) and Hall of Famer Jim Brown (12,312) to become No. 9 on the NFL career list.

The Jaguars are still winless, and you have to wonder if Londoners would like to see the annual visit by Jacksonville voided. Another loss could push Jaguars coach Gus Bradley closer to the edge of unemployment, what with higher expectations the team (and owner Shahid Khan) had entering the season.

Most everyone already believed in the Von Miller-led Denver Broncos defense. Now it's quarterback Trevor Siemian making folks turn their heads and shout praise. It's a somewhat manufactured statistic, but still, Siemian became the first quarterback to throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in his first road start, a win at Cincinnati.

He and the Broncos are in Tampa Bay, and few teams have been as inconsistent as the Buccaneers. Facing that mighty defense without their best running back, Doug Martin, who has a sore hamstring, is a major obstacle for the Bucs.

Two things the New York Giants swore they'd improved over 2015 was an ability to finish, and their overall defense. In last week's loss to Washington, they fell short in both areas, and they were wildly undisciplined. Ben McAdoo's Giants looked eerily similar to the final version of Tom Coughlin's Giants.

Now they go on Monday to the Minnesota Vikings, whose defense could give the Broncos a challenge as best in show. Minnesota doesn't do much with the ball, but can stop just about anyone's run or pass game.

The action began on Thursday with Cincinnati's 22-7 home victory over Miami. A.J. Green had 10 catches for 173 yards and a touchdown, and the Bengals were inspired by linebacker Vontaze Burfict's return from a suspension for illegal hits. The linebacker knocked down a pass and had three tackles.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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