AFC South Q&A: How does the return of J.J. Watt impact the division?

The Houston Texans had the No. 1 defense in 2016, and that was without three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt. How does his return impact an already great defense and the division?

Sarah Barshop, Texans reporter: While the Texans didn't make any significant additions to their defense and lost three starters, adding a healthy Watt makes up for their lack of offseason action. Last season, the Texans got big contributions from Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, and both of their roles will be affected by Watt's return. D.J. Reader also showed he is ready to step in as the starting nose tackle. Without Watt, the defensive line and pass rush were already among the league's best. Adding him likely will take a lot of attention off Mercilus and Clowney from opposing offenses, creating more opportunities for the two young players. If Watt is healthy, the trio will be the NFL's best pass-rushing force and wreak havoc on the league.

Michael DiRocco, Jacksonville Jaguars reporter: Watt's return will make the Texans' defensive front one of the best in the NFL, provided Clowney continues to play at the same level he did in 2016. Clowney played the best football of his career in 2016 (six sacks) and the Texans moved him around to take advantage of matchups. The Texans move Watt around as well, and if he's truly healthy, the team will have two players who can rush the passer from anywhere on the field. That's a nightmare for offensive linemen. The Texans' defense will again be the best in the division and will have to carry the team in 2017, especially if rookie QB Deshaun Watson is on the field. The unit has been good enough to win division titles in 2015 and 2016, and should have them in contention again.

Mike Wells, Indianapolis Colts reporter: Watt rushing the quarterback on one side; Clowney rushing the quarterback on the other side. I think it's safe to say Watt's return will only help a defense that gave up the fewest yards per game last season. Opposing quarterbacks have to know where Watt is lined up on the field at all times. And speaking from a Colts perspective, they know all too well what Watt is capable of. He has 39 tackles and nine sacks (third most against any team he has faced) in 10 career games against Indianapolis. The Texans will need just as good of a performance from their defense -- or better -- to help them win the AFC South for the third straight season. They have question marks at quarterback once again, and the rest of their division rivals should be better offensively this season.