The AFC South isn't exactly a tough division. We saw that very clearly this past weekend. But things are beginning to return to normal in the division, as the Colts continued to rise up in the division standings. Let's take a look at how the entire division fared.
The Houston Texans lost 30-17 to the New York Giants - a team that has looked bad so far this year. The Texans fell behind 17-0 early in the third quarter (after a 14-0 halftime defect) and never recovered, though managing to score 17 points. The Texans also racked up 411 yards - but turned the ball over 3 times and also allowed 419 yards to the Giants. Ryan Fitzpatrick's three interceptions really hurt the team, as did the absence of Arian Foster - though his replacement, Alfred Blue, rushed for 78 yards on 13 carries (6 yards per carry). DeAndre Hopkins had a big day, catching 6 passes for 116 yards, and then Brian Cushing racked up 17 tackles. J.J. Watt had a sack, 2 tackles for loss, a pass deflection, and 7 overall tackles. The Giants aren't a good team, but they beat the Texans by 13 points. Houston still had their moments, but like we expected coming into the season, the quarterback play (Fitzpatrick's three picks) hurt the Texans quite a bit.
The Tennessee Titans didn't fare any better on Sunday, though they lost to perhaps the AFC's best team. Through the first three weeks, I think the Bengals look like the best team in the AFC. The Titans played them Sunday and lost 33-7 in a contest that wasn't close. The Bengals led 33-0 before the Titans scored with 6:09 left in the game to prevent the shutout. The Titans gained more total yards than the Bengals but turned the ball over twice and had eleven penalties called on them for 99 yards. Jake Locker threw two picks and was injured in the game (making his status for this Sunday's game against the Colts in doubt). The Titans as a team rushed for 149 yards and a score, averaging 5.3 yards per carry, but that wasn't close to enough. It didn't help that Ryan Succop missed both of his field goal tries. Quite simply, the talent gap between these two teams was huge and the Bengals did what they were supposed to - beat a Titans team that doesn't look great.
Speaking of a large talent gap, the Bengals/Titans game quite possibly wasn't even the best illustration of that this weekend from the AFC South games. The Colts and the Jaguars faced off this weekend and it was clear of two things: 1) the Colts are much better than their 1-2 record suggests, and 2) the Jaguars stink. The Colts won on the road 44-17 and opened up a 30-0 halftime lead on Jacksonville. The Colts gained 529 total yards and didn't turn the ball over, powered by a dominant performance by Andrew Luck, who completed 31 of 39 passes for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Colts ran for 144 yards and averaged 5 yards per carry, and they recorded 4 sacks. The positive news for the Jaguars is that the Blake Bortles era officially began in the second half of the game, and he had a rough outing. He was 14 of 24 for 224 yards with two touchdowns and two picks, but he didn't look that great overall. Still, however, it's exciting for Jaguars fans to see Bortles out there playing (though it's likely scary seeing him play behind that line). Bortles is definitely someone to watch going forward, but it's clear that the Jaguars are awful and are perhaps the NFL's worst team. The Colts? They're better than their 0-2 record suggested and they still have to be considered the favorites to win the division.
Overall, it was a terrible week for the AFC South. The Texans, Titans, and Jaguars combined for 41 points - three less than the Colts alone scored against the Jaguars. The Colts still lead the division in most points scored with 95, and the next closest is the Houston Texans, who are still 31 points away from Indy. The Colts have also, however, given up the second most points of anyone in the division, but that is also partly due to playing the league's two best offense in the first two weeks (along with the defense just not being that good, either). The Colts lead the division in net points with a plus-17, while the Jaguars are last with a minus-75. The Colts are the only team in the division with a win against another AFC South team so far, and they have an opportunity to get another one at home against the Titans this upcoming Sunday.