Well if you are feeling kind of low about how the Colts look so far this season, here is something to cheer you up—the rest of the AFC South stinks too. That is not really the whole picture, but it is close enough. Despite the Colts having played poorly through 4 games, they are very much in the race for the division title.
The Titans looked like the early favorite to run away with the division given their well-rounded roster and play against tough opponents. Instead, they went to Houston and took an absolute beating at the hands of Deshaun Watson. We will get into Watson’s performance a bit more shortly, but their 57-14 loss to what has typically been an inept offense for the Texans made the Colts loss to the Seahawks look like a close game.
Over the next three weeks, the Titans face the Dolphins, Colts, and Browns. Those are all winnable games for them, but if Marcus Mariota has to miss any time after suffering a hamstring injury, they could be in trouble, because their schedule gets tougher from there, and they need those games to be wins in order to compete in the division.
Like the Titans, the Jaguars had an opportunity to pull away from the division and take a step toward claiming the crown they’ve been awarded for approximately four straight offseasons. This is the team that always seems to make the right offseason moves to strengthen their roster and never seems to put them together once real football starts.
On the road against a terrible Jets team, Blake Bortles continued to be the worst thing about them and simply couldn’t lead them to a win. The Jaguars face the Steelers and the Rams over the next two weeks, and the likelihood of being 2-4 going into their meeting with the Colts.
Last, we have the Texans. Nationally, people are raving about Deshaun Watson after his dismantling of the Titans. This is a team that has been a quarterback away from being a major contender for several years now behind their stellar defense. Is Watson that guy?
Let’s just hold on throwing any parades for a bit. He has definitely got potential, and he is much more skilled than some of the QBs who have come through Houston, but I watched the game against the Titans and I thought the scoreboard was more a product of the Titans’ poor defensive effort than Watson victimizing them. I am not saying he is no good, but I’ll need to see a lot more from him before I am willing to hand over the division title.
The Texans don’t exactly have an easy schedule ahead either. They face the Chiefs, Browns, and Seahawks, before coming to Lucas Oil to take on the Colts. It is very easy to see them entering that game with a 3-5 record.
None of this means the Colts actually will contend for the division title, but it is certainly setting itself up nicely for them to do so. Luck is back at practice this week and will begin ramping up to return to the field. If the Colts can win at home against the 49ers, they may get Luck back to go on the road to face the Titans.
Their next four games: 49ers, Titans, Jaguars, Bengals, are all very winnable ones, especially if Andrew Luck is the guy throwing the ball. The key for them to stick around in the race will be to win those divisional games.
This division sometimes feels like a season-long game of hot potato where the teams fight over who is forced to win it. If that keeps up this season, the Colts might just get their fearless leader back in time to make something happen.