Man the AFC South is a really fun division! It may not be quite the way we expected before the season started but these teams are making it interesting. The Houston Texans finally managed to get a complete performance together and register a win. Their start has possibly reduced this division to a two-horse race but their Week 4 win over the Indianapolis Colts has at least kept them in it for now. As for the two leaders? Well they both managed to pull out statement wins in their own way. The Jacksonville Jaguars win over the New York Jets was expected but they got the job done efficiently. The Tennessee Titans were as bold as hell in overtime to take down the defending champions at home.
This division apparently has a pattern. In Weeks 1 & 3 the division collectively went 1-3. In Weeks 2 & 4 they reversed that to go 3-1. That has left us with two 1-3 teams, Colts & Texans, and two 3-1 teams, Jaguars & Titans. Let’s take a look at the major takeaways from Sunday’s games.
Tennessee Titans 27 vs. Philadelphia Eagles 23
What a time for Corey Davis to pull in his first ever NFL touchdown! Davis’ grab won the game for Titans in the dying second of overtime. If he had failed to come down with the ball then the Titans were likely facing the prospect of at-best getting out of this game with a tie. This result was a well-earned win for the team and Coach Mike Vrabel. Three times the Titans converted fourth downs in overtime. One of those conversions Vrabel chose to pass up a long field goal attempt for Ryan Succop to tie the game. We have already seen Vrabel make some impressive coaching calls and he is now responsible for two of the Titans wins this season already.
Outside of overtime this felt a sloppy game. Marcus Mariota did well passing the ball but he was also the only running game the Titans had. This remains a major concern for the Titans but they have no faced the Jaguars and Eagles the last two weeks who have very good run defenses. Therefore, there is no need for panic at this stage.
Defensively the Titans did a good job of keeping the Eagles offense relatively quiet. Giving up 20-points in regular time will always give you every chance of winning a game. They managed to sack Wentz four times and totaled 11 quarterback hits.
This win will feel huge for Titans. When they looked a the schedule this was probably at best a question mark win for them. To have won this and the Jaguars game last week puts the Titans in an extremely strong position early in the season.
Jacksonville Jaguars 31 vs New York Jets 12
Beating the Jets at home may not feel like a statement win but the method in which it was done is. The Jaguars passing game rolled once again and Blake Bortles was smart with the football. Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief both got over 100-receiving yards and T.J. Yeldon was effective in the passing game. The run game will be a concern. They could only average 2.8 yards per rush with their main two backs. Leonard Fournette could not get going and once again suffered a hamstring injury. Fournette’s injuries are now starting to be a massive problem. If he cannot stay healthy then the Jaguars are in a little bit of trouble. Yeldon is fine but Fournette at his best is an absolute hammer. At this stage the Jaguars need to focus on getting him healthy, even if that means him missing a chunk of time.
Defensively there is not much to say. We would be upset if they did not give the Jets offense trouble. Darnold averaged just 4.9 yards per attempt and the run game was at just 2.4. The Jaguars defense sacked Darnold three times and had four quarterback hits. Not blow you away numbers but exactly what they needed to do against the rookie.
For the Jaguars this was a game where their offense just needed to do its job to get them the win. It took a little while for them to get going but when they did they took a comfortable win. There will be much tougher tests for this team going forward.
Houston Texans 37 @ Indianapolis Colts 34
After battling back to take the game to overtime the Colts gave this away in embarrassing fashion. Frank Reich chose to keep the offense on the field on fourth down late in overtime with the game tied. Luck could not convert and the Texans barely had 10-yards to go to set up the winning kick. No one wants to tie games but it is much better than losing, especially in a conference which could be tight for Wildcard spots.
The biggest question mark for me in this game was could the Texans offense be effective early in this game. Well they had 14-points in the first quarter so that question was answered fairly quickly. In the end it was the Colts whose offense had to get going late, needing 14 fourth quarter points to take the game to overtime. Keke Coutee stepped up big time in this game to help Watson put up a decent line. Watson was still sacked seven times and hit 11 but he managed to do enough to get points on the board early and often. He took care of the ball, throwing just one interception and not fumbling once. The running game was not great with Miller totaling just 49 yards. If the run game had function properly they may not have needed overtime to win this one.
For the Colts it came down to Luck as usual. 464 yards and four touchdowns made up for just 41 total rushing yards. The promising sign was we saw Luck unloading deep a little more, which in turn should help the run game going forward. The bad news was that T.Y. Hilton was injured twice in this. He came back after what looked like a rib injury early in the game. However, he later hurt his hamstring and that will keep him out of the next game Thursday night. Luck will need one of his other trgets to step up as a deep threat. In addition, the Colts will be hoping the return of Robert Turbin can provide a much needed boost in the running game. Luck being sacked four times and hit 11 is not ideal. However, this Texans defense is very good and just appears to be finding its stride in 2018.
Both the Colts (1-3) and Texans (1-3) needs wins in the next couple of weeks if they are to stay in the race for this division. The Titans had a really impressive win in a game many expected them to lose. They will now sit atop the division at 3-1 due to their win over the Jaguars, who are also 3-1.
Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski