AFC South: Watson, Luck season-ending injuries impact division race with Titans, Jaguars at the top

The AFC South was hit with a double dose of dread at the quarterback position Thursday.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (knee) had their seasons ended prematurely due to injuries.

Those two major season-ending injuries will impact the race for the division crown moving forward.

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The Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans are tied at the top of the AFC South at 4-3. The Titans currently own the tie-breaker over the Jaguars because of a Week 2 win at EverBank Field.

Both the Jaguars and the Titans seem poised to face off in a two-team race for the division throughout the second half of the season. With both the Colts and the Texans losing their starting quarterbacks - while also being behind in the division race - the outlook isn't positive for either team.

Luck will miss the entire season as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. His absence has been reflected in the standings as the Colts are all but buried in the AFC South with a record of 2-6. The quarterback's Week 9 shutdown probably has as much to do with the Colts' record as his injury.

Watson reportedly suffered a torn ACL during practice while working on a read-option play. The rookie quarterback caught fire over the last several weeks and was tied for the league lead with 19 passing touchdowns heading into this weekend. 

Watson's season-ending ailment adds to a laundry list of crucial injuries suffered by the Texans, who are currently 3-4. His loss may be worse than that of All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt. It has put the Texans in a bad spot, as they have to return to Tom Savage at quarterback. Savage was benched in Week 1 after the Jaguars ran away with a win in Houston.

The Jaguars and the Titans both have relatively easy schedules moving forward. With nine games left in the race, it may come down to the two teams' Week 17 matchup in Tennessee.

Both teams will probably have to win all of their remaining division games in order to keep the race even.

However, even if Jacksonville has a one-game lead in the race entering Week 17, the Jaguars would still need to beat the Titans to win the division by forcing the standings to consider other tie-breakers.

The Jaguars and the Titans are both 2-1 in the division, so the last game of the season could also make-or-break the two teams' divisional record, which would be the next tie-breaker after the head-to-head matchup category.

Jacksonville and Tennessee have both lacked consistency and how well they play in the second half of the season will go a long way in determining their postseason endeavors.

With the Colts and the Texans likely out of the race with their starting quarterbacks sidelined, the Jaguars and the Titans are both primed for a heavy playoff push.

Follow Mike Kaye on Twitter at @Mike_E_Kaye.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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