The Colts come out of the bye week 3-5 and with a critical stretch of games ahead. All but one of their divisional games lie before them, and if they can get on a run, they have a chance in the division. However, it won’t be easy to suddenly develop consistency where none has existed before.
Offensively this team is getting healthy and starting to click. Defensively, though, they are struggling to find themselves and battle through injuries. Can they put together a streak and chip away at the early deficit they created for themselves?
That remains to be seen. A lot depends on how the other teams in the AFC South do. With that in mind, let’s take a look around the division and see where the other teams in the South stand.
The Houston Texans have an interesting thing going this season. They have only 1 game this year that was decided by more than 1 score. That was their blowout win over the Dolphins two weeks ago.
Despite starting the season 0-3, they have now rattled off 6 consecutive wins, and they don’t have a game on their remaining schedule where they won’t be considered right in the mix, or outright favored. Deshaun Watson has looked great despite terrible offensive line play. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney are leading a defense that is top ten in yards per game, points per game, and just outside the top ten in sacks.
There are some reasons for concern, however. The Texans don’t have a great defensive backfield. Teams with talented quarterbacks (Colts) can exploit that weakness and move the ball well against them. They are also 5th in the league in sacks allowed, with 30.
Despite their flaws, this team keeps winning games and finding ways to come out on the right side of things, even if it is via luck or poor coaching (Looking at you Vance Joseph). If the Texans keep playing as they have been, there just might not be anything the Colts or anyone else in the division can do to catch them.
The Titans snapped their 3 game skid with a win over the Cowboys on the road last night. At 4-4, they are definitely still in play for the division, but it won’t be an easy road to get there. They have been well coached for much of the season, but the team has not been able to consistently perform and injuries have been a factor for them.
They have scored more than 20 points on just two occasions this season. In an offense-driven league, that is not sustainable for a winning team. The Titans have a good defense, but they’ll face the Patriots, Colts, and Texans over the next three weeks, and all three of those teams will almost certainly score more than 20 points, which makes it pretty likely that this team will be staring at a 4-7 record unless they can find a way to get better and more consistent production from Derrick Henry, and keep Marcus Mariota healthy.
On a related note: can Mariota feel his fingers yet?
The Jaguars have struggled mightily to replicate the kind of defensive dominance they showed last season. Their inability to put up points on offense has left them spiraling, dropping 5 of their last 6 games. Like the Titans, they have struggled to break that 20 point marker, which they’ve done just twice this season.
They don’t have an impossible schedule ahead of them, but they face the Colts and Steelers in consecutive weeks, and both teams have proven offenses. With so little room for error in a tight division race, it will be tough for the Jaguars to get back into the race.
However, they do have some encouraging things to note. Leonard Fournette, the team’s 2nd year star running back, is set to return to action after missing time with a hamstring injury. If the Jaguars can take pressure off Blake Bortles to win games for them, they can get going in the right direction again.
Additionally, the Colts’ defense hasn’t exactly provided a tough challenge for quarterbacks, and they have been specifically generous to Bortles, allowing him to put up pretty solid numbers against them with regularity.
Essentially, the AFC South is still wide open. The Texans have been very fortunate to win several games they probably should have lost (or tied). A slip up by them could allow any team to capitalize and move up.
The Colts have the ability to take things under their control by winning the next three weeks at home. If they are able to do that, they put themselves in prime position to make a run at the playoffs in the final weeks of the season. It won’t be easy, but this team might be getting things firing at just the right time to make it happen.