This really is a crucial week in the AFC South. With three teams sitting at 3-3 and the other at 1-5 there are some interesting scenarios in play. If the Jacksonville Jaguars lose to the Houston Texans they will have lost two games to their main rivals in the division. If the Colts lose they will be most likely three games behind the division leaders. As for the Titans they need to avoid losing three in a row and stop the rot in London.
Tennessee Titans @ Los Angeles Chargers (London)
I am really excited to be at this game although I have serious concerns that this could be a blowout. The strength of the Titans team has been their defense. However, the strength of the Chargers team has also been their offense. Last week the Chargers offense was able to overcome a strong Browns defense and I fully expect them to be able to do that this week. The key for the Titans will be stopping Melvin Gordon. The Chargers offense runs around him and if they can shut him down then they will be able to get after Philip Rivers as the game goes on.
Offensively the Titans are a mess. They were shut out last week by the Ravens which I do not expect repeated this week. However, I am not sure they can score enough to stay with this strong Chargers offense. They need to really focus on getting the run game going. Firstly, it will put them in a position to succeed on favorable conditions in second and third down. Secondly, it will slow down the Chargers pass rush and allow Marcus Mariota to work with more time and perhaps even off the play action.
The Chargers are favorites entering this game by 6.5-7 points. After last week I nearly blindly backed the Chargers but I have some concerns. Mostly the fact that they played on the road in Cleveland last week, trained in Cleveland this week and have then flown to London. That never feels like a great spot and I worry they may be sluggish. I am not sure if the effect will be early in the game or as fatigue sets in but I think there will be a point where the Chargers fade. The over/under is 45 in this game. That is a number which has been topped in four of the Chargers last five but just one of the Titans last five. Therefore, I think I am going to stay clear of betting this game. If you are going and you want some fun then I would go for Chargers and the under but I would not go heavily on it.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Buffalo Bills
This is a weird game between a team that is kind of over achieving and a team kind of underachieving. The Bills have pulled two wins seemingly out of nowhere and the Colts have found ways to lose games. The Colts defense has been fairly middling this season but this is a matchup they should have success in. Derek Anderson is starting his first game for the Bills and to say he is not surrounded by talent would be an understatement. The Bills rank last in passing offense and middle of the road in rushing. The Colts need to keep Lesean McCoy in check and then this offense should be easy to control.
Offensively the Colts have thrown more passes this season that anyone else in the NFL. The good news is they rank third in passing touchdowns with 16. The bad news they rank 27th in the NFL in interceptions with eight. The way the Bills have beaten teams this season is forcing mistakes. The Colts need to look after the ball in this game if they are to do what is expected and win the game. They could do with getting a run game going, as they currently rank int eh bottom two in rushing yards and touchdowns. If it is to be anyone then it will likely be Marlon Mack they need to fire.
This is a game where I was all ready to take the Colts and then the line was set at seven. I am not sure this Colts team should be seven point favorites over any team in the NFL. However, I think with T.Y. Hilton likely back the offense will have enough for the Colts to win this by over seven. If Josh Allen was starting I would be all over the Bills covering but I do not think Anderson can do enough extra to get the Bills points. 43 is the over/under and I would lean under initially. In fact the Bills have only been involved in games over that once in their last five. The Colts have been over than number the last three games but they have faced reasonably good offenses. This week I am going to go under and expect a scrappy game where the Bills struggle to get much into double-figures.
Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Three weeks ago I would never have believed you if you said these teams would be tied up atop the division. The Jaguars have been hammered the last two weeks and the Texans have squeaked out wins. When the Texans offense is on the field it will all be about protection. The Texans have let Deshaun Watson get hit more than any other quarterback in the NFL. This is not a defense you want to let hit you. The Jaguars have a good defensive line and the pieces behind that to make you pay for your mistakes. The Texans really need to do what the Cowboys did and run the ball hard to keep this defense off balance. I do not think Watson and Lamar Miller can do what Prescott and Elliott did to this defense. Miller is not good enough to draw enough attention. Therefore, the Texans offense need to get DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee going and force the Jaguars top-two corners to pick who are they are not going to cover if they are to have a shot to win this.
Defensively the Texans just need to do what they have been doing. The Jaguars are more than capable of making mistakes, as shown by their 31st worst rank in offensive turnovers. If the Texans can put pressure on this offense then the Jaguars will give them opportunities. The Texans weakness this year has been against the pass so Bortles and company will need to step up. I think the deciding factor will be whether Watson can move the ball on the Jaguars defense but Bortles needs to be effective to stop that defense tiring.
The Jaguars are four point favorites in this one and they are my selection for this matchup. I think this is a revenge game for the Jaguars who have been humiliated the last two weeks. Now they come home to face a bad offensive line and I think they will crush the Texans offense. I have serious concerns Watson might not make it through this game in one piece. The over/under is 41 which I am staying clear of because I do not trust either offense. I struggle to see both teams making 20-points.
Tennessee Titans +7 @ Los Angeles Chargers (London) – No bet
Indianapolis Colts -7 vs. Buffalo Bills (Colts and under)
Jacksonville Jaguars – 4 vs. Houston Texans (Jaguars)
Image Credit: AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith