As we roll toward the midpoint of the season the colts sit at 2-5. That is far from ideal, obviously. However, there is reason to be optimistic. The Colts faced their toughest stretch of schedule right out of the gate. What’s more, they are getting healthier while injuries are piling up for other teams.
Over their first 8 games, the Colts will have faced just one divisional opponent. That means the back half of their schedule could completely change the face of the division. So how is everything looking around the division? Let’s take a look.
Houston Texans (4-3) (2-1 in the division)
The Texans sit atop the division currently. After starting the season with 3 straight losses, they have rattled off 4 wins in a row to put them tenuously in control of the AFC South. Those wins came against the Colts, Cowboys, Bills, and Jaguars. The Texans didn’t score more than 20 points against anyone but the Colts.
They face the Dolphins, Broncos, Redskins, and Titans over their next four games. How will they fare against these teams? That is tough to say. The only game this season that the Texans have won by more than one score was against the Jaguars, who have no offense.
Can they consistently come out on top in these close games? The Texans have given up 26 sacks this season. The Colts had given up 29 to this point last season. That gives you an idea of how bad their offensive line has been. We remember what that looked like, and it did not result in sustainable, winning football.
Still, the combination of J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney has undoubtedly been a good one. If this team keeps playing great defense, even their awful offensive line might not stop them keeping their hold on the division.
Tennessee Titans (3-4) (2-0 in the division)
The Titans are in serious trouble. Despite sitting at second place in the division, they seem to be in free fall, without any indication of what will stop them from plummeting straight to the bottom of the AFC South. They find themselves on a three-game skid that started with a loss to the truly awful Buffalo Bills, the same Bills who the Colts took to the woodshed on Sunday.
The loss of tight end Delanie Walker has proven to be a crippling blow to the offense of the Titans. Like the Texans, they haven’t been able to consistently score points. Their highest scoring game came against the Eagles, where they put up 26 points. It took them overtime to achieve that. They are ahead of only the Bills and Cardinals in terms of average points per game.
The Titans haven’t gotten the production they had hoped in the running game, and their defense hasn’t been as stout as they had hoped it would be, with some of their players, like Kevin Byard, taking a step back from dominant seasons in 2017.
Of their next 4 games, 3 are on the road. They’ll face the Cowboys on the road, home against the Patriots, on the road against the Colts, and on the road against the Texans. I think it is unlikely that they will be favored in any of those games.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4) (0-2 in the division)
The Jaguars are in a similar boat as the Titans. They decided in the offseason to stick with Blake Bortles under center. Around the league people were perplexed by this decision, and the results are plain to see.
While a dominant performance by the defense in 2017 made this team a contender despite mediocrity at quarterback, a lack of receiving weapons and a defense that has come back to the pack a bit has revealed the flaws on the offense. This Jaguars offense can’t score points. They rank just above the Titans in terms of average points per game, putting them at 29th in the league.
The team’s last win came against the Jets, and they have dropped 3 straight since then, losing to the Chiefs, Cowboys, and Texans in games that weren’t close. The pressure isn’t going to ease up any time soon either.
The Jaguars face the Eagles this week, and while they aren’t the same team that won the Super Bowl, they can almost certainly put up more than 7 points, which is all the Jaguars have managed in their last two games. The Jaguars then go into their bye week, as do the Colts. They come to Lucas Oil Stadium to face a very different Colts team than the one they bullied last year. The Colts have scored more in each of their last two games than the Jaguars did in their last 3 combined. After that they head home to face the Steelers and finish that 4-game stretch against the Bills.
Having already dropped 2 division games, the Jaguars need to get wins badly to keep pace with a close division. This 4-game stretch will be very critical to that effort. Given that we have already seen cracks in the locker room and no clear offensive weapons to turn to, that seems unlikely.