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Around the AFC South: A look at the Colts’ division after two weeks

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The AFC South has been a mixed bag to start the 2019 season. Just two weeks in there isn’t a clear leader, but there are certainly some interesting storylines to follow. This is your week 2 look around the AFC South at the teams the Colts are up against.

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars v Houston Texans Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The Texans look to be the current front-runner to win the division. Like the Colts, they lost a tough week one battle to a very good playoff caliber team in the New Orleans Saints. Also like the Colts, the rebounded with a gritty win over a division opponent to tie with the Colts at the top of the division.

One thing that has been made clear to anyone still doubting him is that Deshaun Watson is a star. He has the poise, arm, vision, and overall ability to make every throw, and has done so already. Additionally, he has the receivers to support him. What he doesn’t have? An offensive line. Through two games he has already been sacked 10 times. As a point of reference, Andrew Luck was sacked just 18 times all of last season.

Despite leveraging their future to bring in Laremy Tunsil in the hopes of firming up their line, the Texans are still struggling to keep Watson upright. That isn’t sustainable, as Colts fans know too well. Additionally, their defense is not the same without Jadeveon Clowney, managing just 5 sacks through two games, which is a problem considering their weaknesses in the secondary.

Even with those factors, this team has looked strong early, but this week will travel to face the Chargers. They’ll face the same brutal pass rush the Colts did, and their success or failure there will tell us a great deal more about what this team is.

Tennessee Titans

Indianapolis Colts v Tennessee Titans Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

The Titans are a tough team to judge because they are missing starting tackle Taylor Lewan, and that loss is not insignificant. They haven’t gotten production in the passing game from big free agent acquisition Adam Humphries, and Marcus Mariota has been his usual self through two games.

Additionally, they don’t seem to want to use their best offensive weapon, Derrick Henry, to the fullest extent. Their defense has limited both the Browns and the Colts offenses, proving that they are not to be overlooked, but until the offense can be more productive, this is a team that is likely to struggle.

With their loss to the Colts, they sit in 3rd place in the division and face the Jaguars tomorrow on Thursday Night Football in Jacksonville. If they drop another game in the division they will be facing a 1-2 start and a truly difficult hole to climb out of. They’ll need to see a big change in their offensive play, and they can’t keep letting their injury prone quarterback take big hits.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The Jaguars find themselves in the bleakest and most hopeless spot in the division, with their free agent quarterback Nick Foles going down with a broken clavicle that will put him out of commission for at least 2 months. While there are high hopes for the Gardner Minshew experience, the backup quarterback doesn’t exactly have a great arsenal of weapons surrounding him.

Leonard Fournette is, as I have said several times ahead of this season, the worst starting running back in this division. Since he also might be their most talented offensive player, that pretty much tells you what you need to know about this team on the offensive side of the ball. They are going to struggle all season there, because they are using a backup quarterback who is surrounded by a mediocre group of skill players. Until they improve they won’t win many games.

On the defensive side of the ball, the team is still very talented. The loss of Telvin Smith matters, and while their week one was against the Chiefs who put up 40, I’m not sure there is a lot to learn there. The Chiefs are a team that can put up 40 points on just about everyone. They held the Texans to 13, which is impressive. Unfortunately, they need to have a historically good defense to counteract the offensive shortcomings. Oh, and the icing on the cake is that their best player, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, had a spat with the coach and has demanded a trade.

To make matters worse, they face the prospect of going 0-3 with a loss to the Titans tomorrow, and that would include two divisional losses. The road to relevance is going to be uphill all season for this team, and I am not sure they’re built for a comeback.