From the outside looking in, the AFC South is a strange place. Who is the dominant team in this division? The AFC East and North has the Patriots and Steelers. Yes, there are teams in the West division, but what about the South? Here are your options: the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans. Those teams definitely DO NOT have the Patriots or Steelers shaking in their space boots, during the regular season and/or post season.
The South came into existence in 2002 with the introduction of the Houston Texans. In that time the Indianapolis Colts have won 9 of the 16 divisional titles. Those Colts teams, however, we’re lead by a Hall of Fame general manager, coach, wide receiver, and a soon to be Hall of Fame quarterback. That team is gone. In its place there are 4 teams trying to seize the moment. But how good are all these teams? Who is the team to beat in the AFC South?
The Houston Texans: 3 Division Titles
Houston was running hot at the beginning of the season. They had their shiny new quarterback DeShaun Watson running and throwing all over the place and defenses were looking silly. He only started weeks 2-8 and had a QB record of 3-3. Still, he threw 1,699 yards, completing 61.8% of his passes for 19 TDs, 8 INTs AND ran for 269 yards and 2 TDs. Unfortunately, in week 8 he got hurt with a knee injury and was lost for the rest of the season.
The rest of the season for the Texans seems like a wash. They lost JJ Watt, and sure one player doesn’t make a defense that much better, but this Texans defense gave up the most points in the NFL which was, obviously, more than the Browns. Let’s read that together again…. MORE THAN THE BROWNS!!! … breath in…and out… moving on.
Last season is in the past and the future is now, or at least that’s what someone told me once. The Texas added to their secondary with Tyrann Mathieu. With Watt and Watson supposedly coming back healthier in time for next season, there is reason to suspect that the Texans will rise to the top of the South.
The Indianapolis Colts: 9 Division Titles
Well, what can be said about the Colts? This is a franchise that got lucky in 1998. Dominated the division from 2003-2010. In 2012 the Colts turned to Luck to right the ship but have been without it and him for practically 2 years.
This team, has a very supportive fan base. Since the Colts are without it’s true, potentially top tier, starting quarterback who may never be the same once he gets back from his shoulder injury, may have to wait longer to find the Indianapolis Colts name at the top of the divisional standings.
Where’s the defense? I read somewhere that the Colts have a defense.
The Jacksonville Jaguars: 1 Division Title
The Jaguars gave the Patriots a good run for their money last season and nearly made it to the Super Bowl. They may not have been favored to beat the Pats, but as the clock struck midnight for the Jaguars so too did their season end.
This team, this franchise causes most people to have a little laugh, chuckle, or even a chortle at the sound of its name. Most people wouldn’t have even given this team a chance to win at any point last season or the 15 seasons before that. Last season was the first time the Jaguars won the division. The 3 other teams have already won it at least twice at this point.
The blemish on the Jaguars is their quarterback. Blake Bortles may be considered a failure as a NFL quarterback, but hey, his team got to the playoffs. That’s more than Matt Stafford, Kirk Cousins, and Russell Wilson can say.
The gem of Jacksonville was their defense. It ranked #1 in yards, yards allowed, and 1st downs allowed per game. The Jacksonville secondary came in, ironically(?), 2nd in most interceptions. This defense also came in 2nd for total points and points per game allowed. If a team is going against the Jaguars, that team’s offense better be on point.
The Tennessee Titans: 2 Division Titles
I feel like I can relate to the Titans. Living in a world of what could have been or the what used to be. This team came roaring in to Tennessee. The Titans had Pro Bowl quarterbacks, running backs, defenses players that gave opposing quarterbacks nightmares. This is a franchise that went to the Super Bowl…doesn’t that feel like almost 20 years ago?
That’s was then, this is now. This team has some similar problems as the Colts. Where’s the offense? Where’s the defense? Where’s their quarterback? I mean, you can’t always rely on a “Music City Miracle” happening every week. They do have a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. Marcus Mariota couldn’t maintain consistency on the field last season. Maybe consistent quarterback play on the field can be their miracle?
I’m not a betting man. If I was, I would pick the Jaguars to win the division again. Bortles may be baffle us all again. Watson, is going to be a solid quarterback, but the Texans defense leave a lot of wants and no haves or wins. The Colts and Titans still look like they are trying to figure it out…who are these teams? I can only name Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota, then again I’m not a fan of the AFC South. Good Luck to all.