Ideally, down the road, Deshaun Watson will be named to several Pro Bowls as one of the actual three best quarterbacks in the AFC, and even more ideally, he will not have to play in said Pro Bowls, because the Houston Texans are playing in the Super Bowl the following weekend. That would be the perfect scenario.
However, Watson's first Pro Bowl will have to come under more imperfect circumstances, as Watson cashed in on his "Pro Bowl alternate" status, and was named to the 2019 Pro Bowl on Monday to replace Tom Brady, who will be busy playing in his ninth Super Bowl the following weekend. It's still a pretty cool honor for Watson, who followed up his six eye-popping starts in his rookie season in 2017 with a 2018 season that saw him become the first player in league history to throw for at least 4,000 yards, 25 touchdown passes, rush for at least 500 yards, and rush for at least five touchdowns, in the same season.
Watson finished sixth in the NFL in passer rating (103.1), and had the top passer rating in football for the period of Week 8 through Week 17 (115.2), due in large part to his vast improvement in protecting the football, as Watson avoided throwing an interception in nine of his final ten starts in 2018.
Watson joins teammates DE J.J. Watt, OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney, WR DeAndre Hopkins, ILB Bernardrick McKinney, and RB Lamar Miller as Pro Bowl participants, and the six Texans participating in the Pro Bowl is the second most for one season in franchise history, trailing only the 2012 Texans, who sent eight players to the Pro Bowl.
HOUSTON TEXANS TO PLAY JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS IN LONDON IN 2019
Since the five host teams for NFL international games in 2019 were announced several weeks ago, and since three of the five are road opponents for the Houston Texans in 2019, speculation had been percolating that the Texans would finally make a trip across the pond to play a game in London. On Monday, that speculation was fulfilled as the NFL announced that the Texans will face their AFC South rival Jacksonville Jaguars in London this upcoming season.
This marks the first time the Texans will play in the UK in franchise history, and it will mark their second international game, having faced the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City on a Monday Night Football game in 2016. (SIDE BAR: Hopefully, there will be fewer laser pointers in London than there were in Mexico City.)
The four London games will take place in two different stadiums, with two games being played at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium and two at Wembley Stadium. Dates, kickoff times and venues for all international games will be announced when the full NFL schedule is released, usually in late April sometime. This will be the seventh consecutive season that Jacksonville has hosted a home game in London.
The Texans are not the only team making their maiden voyage to London for a game. The Carolina Panthers will play a division road game, as well, taking on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only NFL team remaining who will have not played in London by the end of the 2019 season is the Green Bay Packers.
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Here are the five international matchups for 2019:
Here are the NFL international games for 2019. Chiefs get another crack at Mexico after this year’s game was canceled pic.twitter.com/MmRkEk1gQr— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 21, 2019
So you have three divisional games, and then two inter-conference games. For fun, we will call the Chicago-Oakland matchup the Khalil Mack Bowl (Mack was traded from Oakland to Chicago before the start of this past season), and the Cincinnati-LA Rams matchup will be called the Zac Taylor Bowl (Taylor is the current QB coach for the Rams, and soon to be head coach of the Bengals.)
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.