It was a rough opening week for the division. Going into the year, the South was brought up many times as possibly being the worst in football. Week 1 did nothing to dispel that notion as the teams went a combined 1-3, all at home, against the NFC North. Not too great.
Houston Texans (1-0)
Looking Back: We start with the Texans, the only winner from the weekend. Against the Bears, the Texans got off to a slow start, but were able to blow past Chicago in the second half to the tune of a 23-14 win. It was mostly good news for Houston, and Whitney Mercilus was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his 2 sack and a forced fumble game. If Mercilus can continue to rush the passer that effectively, the Texans could have a terrifying pass rush. On a sour note, though, the Texans lost Brian Cushing for the season with a torn ACL. Obviously a fairly large blow to that Texans front seven. While I did pick them to win, I though Houston looked better than I expected (mainly in the second half).
Looking Ahead: The Texans will remain at home this week as they welcome the Chiefs to town. As some of you might remember, the Chiefs ended Houston's season fairly efficiently last year in the Wild Card round. As our friends at Battle Red Blog pointed out, this is actually the third meeting in the last year between the teams, with the Chiefs winning the prior two. The Texans welcome a team that likely will still be without Jamaal Charles, but a team that won in dramatic fashion last week by storming back to beat the Chargers.
Prediction: I'm a big believer in the Chiefs, but I don't think they get this one. Houston jumps out early and hangs on for the win.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1)
Looking Back: The Jaguars had probably the hardest task in the division, opening against the Packers. I watched most of this game, and the Jaguars looked fairly impressive. The offense moved the ball well, primarily due to the play of Blake Bortles. The defense was able to contain Aaron Rodgers to the tune of 199 passing yards. However, on the plays that mattered, the Packers stepped up while Jacksonville didn't. The most notable two being the stop on 4th and 1 late in the game, and Rodgers' immaculate touchdown pass early in the second half.
Looking Ahead: The Jaguars head on the road to face the San Diego Chargers. The Chargers managed to collapse on the road to lose against the Chiefs last week and will need a bounce back game. After both teams lost in stinging fashion, it will be interesting to see who rebounds better.
Prediction: The Chargers are at home, and have more experience (not that it helped last week). Still, give me the Chargers in an immensely important game as they are the only AFC West team without a win.
Tennessee Titans (0-1)
Looking Back: In the first half, the Titans looked great. The run was working, mostly. The defense was bottling up Adrian Peterson, and Shaun Hill couldn't move the ball for Minnesota at all. Then the Vikings defense scored on a takeaway. Then another one. And suddenly the Titans were out of it. Key mistakes doomed the Titans, and the team didn't seem able to snap out of their funk.
Looking Ahead: The Titans are the only team in the South to not face an AFC West team this week. Instead, they'll travel to the Motor City to take on the Lions. I won't go into too much detail about the Lions last week, because, you know, we've got that covered here on Stampede Blue. The Titans will face a real QB this week (sorry Shaun Hill) so it will be interesting to see how the defense can play. And it's the opposite on the other side. Last week the Lions defense was scorched by Andrew Luck, but this week they'll play a run first team.
Prediction: I don't see the Titans winning up in Detroit. I just don't.
Indianapolis Colts (0-1)
Looking Back: Yikes. The Colts defense was eaten alive by the Lions. Further, Patrick Robinson is undergoing concussion protocol, leaving the secondary dangerously thin. It was a tale of who had the ball. On offense, the Colts looked great. On defense, they were horrid.
Looking Ahead: This week, it's the Colts with the toughest task in the division as they head to Denver to play the defending champion Broncos. The Broncos also escaped with a victory, and will have 10 days rest for their game against the Colts. Expect the Broncos to go after Luck the same way they did Cam Newton. Both Luck and Newton play a similar style of football, so I would imagine the Broncos will try to use a similar schedule to stop Luck.
Prediction: Due to the Colts success against Denver, I really want to say they win this game. But I'm not so sure the offense will be able to score the points necessary to win against a strong Broncos defense.
Lastly, a fun fact. All of the South teams played at home last week. However, the Colts were the only one to wear their home jerseys, as the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars all opted for their all white look.