Week one was always going to be interesting for the AFC South. With three really good teams and potentially a fourth semi-decent, all of the four would have been hoping to get off to a roaring start. However, going 1-3 as a division is not the roaring start for many of the teams. Some of the losses are understandable and were maybe even expected, others not so much. The week saw the return of two franchise quarterbacks and the longest game in terms of real world time ever in an NFL game, so it certainly cannot be described as boring. Let’s take a look at the main takeaways for each team after their first outing.
Jacksonville Jaguars 20 @ New York Giants 15
I will start with the team that managed to get a win in week one. The Jaguars defense got a stern test against Giants offense loaded with talent. They did extremely well, keeping the Giants to just 15 points and forcing two turnovers, one interception and one fumble. There were some signs of concern, mainly how often it felt like Jalen Ramsey was beaten by Odell Beckham. However, defensive units tend to get better as seasons progress so this is a start the Jaguars will be happy about.
On the offensive side of the ball it was the same old stuff really. Bortles went 18-of-33 for 176 yards with one touchdown and one interception, which is essentially what we have come to expect at this point. The biggest loss however, was Leonard Fournette leaving the game with a hamstring injury. When he left the game Fournette had 41 yards from nine carries. He was replaced by T.J. Yeldon, who did fine, grabbing himself a touchdown on a catch and adding 51 yards on 14 carries. Fournette is questionable for week two against the Patriots but of more concern for the Jaguars will be his long term health. Do not be surprised if the Jaguars are tentative with Fournette over the next month, in order to make sure they have him healthy down the stretch of the season.
Houston Texans 20 @ New England Patriots 27
This game was never going to be easy, against an extremely good Patriots team. The Texans trailed 21-6 at the half and did well to only lose by seven. Their defense really stepped up, forcing three fumbles and picking off Tom Brady, as they held the Patriots to just six second half points. This game was always going to be hard to read too much in the defenses performance especially against a team as talented on offense as the Patriots.
The offensive side of the ball had some major concerns. It felt as though Deshaun Watson was being hit continuously, especially early in the game. He was sacked three times and lost a fumble as the offensive line made the Patriots defense look like one of the best pass rushing units in the league. The issue is that if the Patriots defense can do this, the the Texans are going to be in huge trouble when they face a defense like the Jaguars. To finish on a positive, Lamar Miller had 98 yards rushing on 20 carries but had his touchdown sniped by Alfred Blue.
Indianapolis Colts 23 vs Cincinnati Bengals 34
The Colts had a real shot to win this game, in fact the scoreline is deceiving. The Colts were driving for the game winning touchdown, down four, when a Jack Doyle fumble was scooped up and taken to the house, sealing the game for the Bengals. Their were a ton of positive in this game on both sides of the ball. Ryan Grant stepped up, Jack Doyle was solid prior to his fumble and Ebron and Hilton will always be threats to score. Offensively the running back position is a concern, that hopefully will have something of a solution when Marlon Mack and Robert Turbin return.
On the defensive side there were again positives, forcing two fumbles, recovering one and grabbing an interception. However, they still gave up 27 points to the Bengals and 95 yards on the ground to Joe Mixon. Their defense is going to be a concern all season and better quarterbacks than Andy Dalton could slice and dice them in a terrible way.
Tennessee Titans @ Miami Dolphins
This game was essentially a nightmare from start to finish for the Titans. The game started in the rain and there were two two-hour breaks because of lightning in the area. This game went on so long that redzone went off-air at 1am Monday morning with the game still going on. It started at 6pm! What happened when the players were on the field was not much better for the Titans. I will start with the defense, who despite picking Ryan Tannehill off twice, managed to give up 27 points to a questionable Dolphins offense. The worst moment was a 75 yard touchdown reception for Kenny Stills and Frank Gore was virtually unstoppable, averaging 6.8 yards per rush.
On the offensive side of the ball it was a complete nightmare. Three interceptions, two by Marcus Mariota and one by Blaine Gabbert are the minor headlines, yes it was that bad. Mariota left the field twice and is questionable for week 2 with an elbow injury. The hit that forced him out of the game for the final time was at best questionable and the Titans will be hoping it does not cost their start quarterback too much time. In addition, they lost left tackle Taylor Lewan to a concussion, after being hit hard on a crack-back block. The final nail in the coffin was Delanie Walker suffering a broken ankle, which will end his season. The Titans season could have crumbled in week one if Mariota and Lewan can not get back on the field quickly. Losing the game is not a disaster, but losing those three pieces may well be.
Image Credit: The Tennessean