The AFC South has been incredible in 2018. Every week we have had fascinating storylines as the division has twisted and turned its way through 10 weeks. The Jaguars came out hot and in Week 4 we discussed the chance of the Texans effectively being eliminated from the division. Now we are discussing a possible elimination game for the Jaguars and the chance for the Texans to take a two-game lead in the division. In addition, we have also had the wonderfully up-and-down seasons of the Colts and Titans. The Colts could easily have another two wins and the Titans have swung back-and-forth like a pendulum.
Let’s take a look at Week 11 might have in store for us.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
Colts Offense vs. Titans Defense
In basic terms this is the battle of the good offense against the good defense. The Colts offense ranks in the top-10 in points scored and total yards while the Titans defense ranks in the top-10 itself for least points and passing yards allowed.
Most of the Colts offensive damage has been done through the air, as they rank 12th in passing yards and second in passing touchdowns. However, in to of the past three weeks they have ran for over 200 yards and had a 127 rushing yard game just prior to that. A lot of thanks for the running game spark can be attributed to the return of Marlon Mack. He has caused damage to oppositions personally and opened up opportunities for others to make big plays. The other important thing here is that the Colts have turned the ball over just once in the last four games, they are 3-1 in that time.
However, the Titans defense has been incredible against the pass, surrendering the 6th least passing yards and the least amount of passing touchdowns. They have also done well against the run, ranking 10th and fourth in yards and touchdowns respectively. In general, the Titans defense has been very hard to move the ball on. However, this may be their least favorable spot. Their other road games have been against the Dolphins, Bills, Jaguars, Chargers and Cowboys. The only explosive offense their was the Chargers and they were perhaps somewhat negated by playing here in London.
Which unit wins this matchup will go a long way to determining the game script.
Titans offense vs. Colts defense
This matchup is the story of two mediocre units who can have their moments. Overall the Titans offense ranks 28th in points scored and 29th in total yards. They have been better running the ball, ranking 14th in yards and 13th in touchdowns. They actually started the season nicely with three 100 yard rushing games but then struggled for three games. However, recently they have got back to running the ball well, averaging over 135 yards per game on the ground. They have also shown flashes in the passing game but generally they have struggled with limited pass catching talent. The last two weeks we have seen a concerted effort to get Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith the ball. In those two games they are 2-0. If that continues this week then just maybe they can get to 3-0.
The Colts defense rank low in both points and yards allowed. However, they have turned the ball over in every game and rank an impressive fifth with 17 turnovers. Interestingly the Colts defense ranks 24th in passing yards allowed but just 14th in passing touchdowns, suggesting that they can turn it on in the red zone. I expect the Titans to move the ball in this game but the key will be the red zone when they are on offense. If the Colts can keep them around the 21-24 point mark then Andrew Luck can win this game. Allow the Titans 30 points and it might be tough against that defense.
Turnovers are going to be the key in this game. Indianapolis are good at taking the ball away but they also turn it over. The Titans do not force many turnovers but they do not give away many either. Coming into this game the Colts are one to two point favorites. Even when they were struggling to get wins Luck was playing well and now the team is clicking. I like the Colts to win this game by 3-7 points. In addition, the over/under is set at 49 in most places. This game has the feel of a 27-24 type game and therefore I am going to take the over but I think it will be close.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
It tells you everything about this game that it has been moved out of Sunday Night prime time and into the early slate. The television companies do not expect much from the 3-6 Jaguars against the 6-2-1 Steelers and I am not sure I do either. In a weird twist the Steelers are doing everything well except defending the pass and the Jaguars are doing everything badly… except defending the pass.
James Conner is the key to this game. If he can have the success we expect then Steelers can grind down this defense. However, if the Jaguars can shut him down early they may be able to get after Big Ben, who they have a good history against. In two games in Pittsburgh last year the Jaguars forced SEVEN turnovers, with five coming in one game. The Steelers were able to move the ball but they made too many mistakes and that could have a residual effect in this game.
The Steelers are 5.5 point favorites in most place this week. Ultimately I think they win the game given the way these two teams are trending. However, the concern over Big Ben just melting down against this defense again and the knowledge that this is essentially a do-or-die game for the Jaguars mean I am hesitant to bet it. The over/under is 46 points and I am going to lean to the under. This feels like a game where both teams try to dominate on the ground and wear down the opposing defense.
Houston Texans @ Washington Redskins
This has all the makings of a really ugly game. The Redskins offense is in tatters after losing key parts of their offensive line against the Atlanta Falcons. However, their defense has been one of the best in the league at stopping opponents from scoring. They have also forced the third most turnovers and second most fumbles. Meanwhile they have not turned the ball over themselves, ranking second in turnovers.
The Texans were extremely lucky last time out against the Broncos. However, coming off the bye they should be fresh. They have struggled a little on the road this season and are lucky to be 3-2, and could easily be 1-4. Saying that they are the more talented team on both sides of the ball and should be able to come out on top. Executing will be the key, as that is how the Buccaneers cost themselves against the Redskins last week.
I really want to but I cannot touch the Texans as three point favorites on the road. They could easily have lost games in both Indianapolis and Denver and managed to scrape out of both with wins. On the other hand the over/under of 42 looks a juicy under for me this week. It is a really low line but given the struggles of both offenses at times and the strength of both defenses I think this is a really low scoring game.
Indianapolis Colts – 3 vs. Tennessee Titans – Colts and over
Jacksonville Jaguars +5.5 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers – Under
Houston Texans -3 @ Washington Redskins – Under
Image credit: Mark Zaleski/AP