This is something a little different than what you’re probably used to reading from me, which makes putting this together even more exciting. ‘State of the AFC South’ is a piece that I’ll be putting together each week moving forward.
So, let’s kick things off with the division-leading Tennessee Titans.
Tennessee Titans (2-2):
Tennessee handed the New York Jets (yes, you read that correctly) their first win of the season and are now 2-2. Despite Derrick Henry rushing for 157 yards and averaging 4.8 YPC, it was the Titans’ defense which couldn’t get it done against rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who threw for 297 yards and 2 touchdowns Sunday.
Even though Tennessee was missing its two best wideouts in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, quarterback Ryan Tannehill played fairly well without them in the starting lineup. Still, the defense was their concern last season, and it’s now a concern this season, too.
The Titans still lead their division at 2-2 and will be on the road again next week to play the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars. Although that game may not be a ‘must-win,’ losing to an inferior Jacksonville team could hurt the Tennessee down the road.
Indianapolis Colts (1-3):
Indianapolis captured its first victory of the season after beating the Miami Dolphins 27-17 Sunday. While the team showed signs of improvement, they still have some issues to clean up. Quarterback Carson Wentz, just two weeks removed from double ankle injuries, looked much healthier Sunday then he did in Week 3.
Wentz made some really nice plays, which helped to extend the Colts’ drives throughout the game. He also missed some easy throws, too, and at times holds onto the ball for far too long. There’s definitely room for improvement. Both Jonathan Taylor, who had his first 100-yard rushing performance of the season, and Mo Alie-Cox, who caught both touchdown passes from Wentz, showed up in a major way, too.
The Colts travel to Baltimore to take on a 3-1 Ravens team fresh off a blowout victory against the Denver Broncos. We’ll have to see if Indy’s best performance of the season can carry over against a top-ranked NFL team Monday night.
Houston Texans (1-3):
Houston’s only victory on the season is against the woeful Jaguars, which should tell you how bad of a team Jacksonville is. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills, well, looked like a rookie against the Buffalo Bills, who are maybe the best team in AFC currently. Mills was mediocre at best Sunday, throwing for 87 yards and tossing 4 interceptions.
Their running game wasn’t of much help, as Houston only rushed for a grand total of 48 yards. Josh Allen picked apart the Texans’ defense, throwing for 248 yards and 2 passing touchdowns. As a unit, the Bills also rushed for 199 yards with the majority of the load coming from Devin Singletary and Zack Moss.
The Texans have all kinds of problems on both sides of the ball. Honestly, I’m not sure if Tyrod Taylor would’ve faired any better against the Bills. New England comes to Houston next Sunday in a matchup between two 1-3 teams which are desperately in need of a meaningful win.
Jacksonville Jaguars (0-4):
The Jaguars actually performed quite well against a well-coached Bengals team, scoring the first 14 points of the game. In true Jacksonville fashion, though, their defense gave up 24 unanswered second-half points to Joe Burrow and company.
Rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence appeared to be one of very few bright spots Thursday, throwing for 204 yards and rushing for 36 yards, including a rushing touchdown. Second-year running back James Robinson had 78 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns as well.
Joe Burrow carved up a below-average Jaguars secondary for 348 yards and tossed 2 passing touchdowns. Tight end C.J. Uzomah was one of many Cincinnati’s stars as he had 95 receiving yards and caught two touchdowns, which helped get the Bengals right back in the game.
Now losers of 19 straight games, the Jaguars will face a division-rival Tennessee next week, who is also badly in need of a win after losing to the Jets Sunday. Even if both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones don’t play, I still don’t like Jacksonville’s chances next Sunday.