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AFC South Roundup: How did the rest of the division fare in week 1?

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC South went 1-3 in week one, with only the Tennesse Titans getting a win. Both the Colts and Texans lost in close fought contests that pitted them against top playoff teams, while the Jaguars were easily handled by the Chiefs. While most of us were more plugged in to how the Colts looked Sunday, let’s look at how the other teams around the division did this week.

Tennessee Titans

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with the lone team to get a win in week one, the Titans. At first glance, the stat line in the Titans’ romp over the hyped-up Browns looks impressive. A 43-13 beatdown is nothing to ignore. After watching the game, however, it is tougher to draw that same conclusion.

First, the Browns were dreadful. Baker Mayfield made crippling mistakes that doomed the team offensively, and they racked up 182 penalty yards as a team. When you get sacked 5 times, turn the ball over 3 times, and have that many penalties, the other team rightly should win by that margin.

None of this means the Titans aren’t a good team. They did win a game that they should have won, and they contributed to the Browns playing so poorly. However, the film doesn’t show a dominant team the way the box score does. The Colts have an opportunity to go into Tennessee and get a win which would put them in a great spot in the division.

Rookie WR A.J. Brown made a nice debut with 3 catches for 100 yards, and Derrick Henry had an excellent game, going for 84 yards on the ground and 75 in the passing game. Add in that Delanie Walker is back, and this offense looks like it should be able to complement their talented defense well this season.

Houston Texans

NFL: Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Like the Colts, the Texans lost a close game against a playoff contender. Deshaun Watson looked incredible throwing to Will Fuller and DeAndre Hopkins, and led the team down the field for a score in what looked like a game winner against the Saints. Unfortunately, with :37 seconds on the clock and one timeout, future Hall of Famer Drew Brees took his Saints down the field and set them up for a game winning field goal as time expired.

It was a really exciting game and showed a Texans team at its apex. However, they were not without flaws. Many of Watson’s throws reminded me forcibly of Andrew Luck. Specifically of the times when he would let a beautiful ball fly deep downfield to hit a receiver in stride, right before being crushed by a defensive lineman.

Watson picked right back up where he left off in 2018, getting sacked 6 times and hit 11. Despite all they gave up for Laremy Tunsil, they weren’t able to protect Watson. Sure, it was one game, and it is early. Tunsil will take time to integrate. But if this team lets Watson get sacked another 50+ times this season, they might get to experience the same kind of pain Colts fans have.

Additionally, the defense felt the absence of Jadeveon Clowney. How exactly? They had 1 sack of Drew Brees, and just 3 hits on him total. J.J. Watt didn’t so much as record a tackle. Removing Clowney from the equation makes their defense unquestionably less dynamic. It seems like their success this season will fall squarely on the shoulders of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins.

Jacksonville Jaguars

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars have been a long suffering franchise almost exclusively due to poor quarterback play. Whatever Nick Foles could have been for this team given his surrounding talent will remain unknown for a while, because Foles was lost to them with a broken collar bone for an undetermined amount of time. He will be placed on IR and the hope is that he can be back before the end of the season.

Backup QB Gardner Minshew took the field in his stead and played well all things considered. He played safe and efficiently, but unsurprisingly could not hang with the prolific offense of the Chiefs, even without Tyreek Hill for much of the game.

This Jaguars team doesn’t have the offensive talent to have anything less than a stellar defensive year. Time and again Mahomes abused the middle of the defense in the passing game, something that would not have been possible prior to the loss of Telvin Smith. If this team can’t get their defense playing at an elite level, they’re going to struggle all season.