The AFC South has been thrown into chaos in Week 13. The benching of Blake Bortles was always going to prompt some sort of response from the Jaguars but just how much of a response was stunning to witness. There was also an impressive win from the division leaders which has strengthened their chase for not only the division but a potential bye week. As for the Titans they squeaked out an important win to make sure they stay in the conversation for the Wildcard slot, even if the division might be out of reach.
Jacksonville Jaguars 6 vs. Indianapolis Colts 0
Yes you are reading this correctly. There were just six points scored in this game the Colts were completely shut out. The Jaguars defense responded to the sacking of their offensive coordinator and the benching of their quarterback in a big way. The offense did not do much with Leonard Fournette suspended but the defense rallied the way we saw them do so many times last season. The defenders made sure to lay plenty of his on receivers and mean that even when they caught the ball in space they were apprehensive.
The Jaguars defense hit Andrew Luck nine times and sacked him three times. They also forced a fumble on tight end run from Eric Ebron and intercepted Luck once. Luck threw the ball 52 times but only managed to complete 33 for 248 yards and failed to register a touchdown. That broke an eight game streak of Luck throwing three or more touchdowns. The passing game was not helped by a running game which totaled just 41 rushing yards on 16 carries, including 16 yards on two Luck carries.
The Jaguars offense did enough but they were unspectacular. They will need to play better than this next week if they are to win back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
I will start with the Jaguars. Offensively there is nothing really other than the trade for Carlos Hyde looks like a massive waste of resources. T.J. Yeldon continued to be productive in the passing game and should be the second option behind Fournette. Defensively this game was a key statement for them, given that many have been suggested as pinning the teams losses on Bortles. You do not shut many teams out in the NFL so this is something the defense should be incredibly proud of.
As for the Colts this was a buzz-saw situation. As soon as it came out that Bortles was benched I had concerns for the Colts. Ultimately I felt their talent could win them the game but the result is not a huge shock. The performance is disheartening but even the best offensive teams have the occasional let down game. The key is how they bounce back next time out. However, the division may not be totally out of reach and they are going to have to focus on that final Wildcard spot.
Houston Texans 29 vs. Cleveland Browns 13
I thought the Browns could win this but the Texans were incredibly impressive. The story of the game was the defense which forced four takeaways, including a defensive touchdown. After the Texans got up early Baker Mayfield had a rookie mind melt type game and threw a couple of ad interceptions that he will wish he could have back. To have forced three interceptions despite not sacking Mayfield and hitting him just once demonstrates how their defensive lines reputation factors in. Mayfield was constantly looking nervous and pulled the trigger too quick a couple of times.
As the for the Texans offense it was once again the Lamar Miller show. He had 103 yards on 19 carries and constantly seemed to be running free at important moments. His success on the ground allowed Watson to complete 22-of-31 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, despite being sacked four times. Miller is a vital part of this offense and setting them up for the passing game by keeping the defense on the back foot.
The Texans are now really starting to put it together. I do think there is a big slip game coming because winning week-after-week is really tough. However, if they can keep this up they could steal the #2 seed and get a bye week in the playoffs. Their best chance of defeating the Patriots and/or Steelers is to face them at home so they cannot afford to back off for a single second.
Tennessee Titans 26 vs. New York Jets 22
Ultimately the Titans won but how I am not quite sure. They went down 10-0 after a pick six by Trumaine Johnson but touchdowns for Derrick Henry, Anthony Firkser and Corey Davis brought them back. The defense did great to keep the Jets out of the end zone but against Josh McCown and a lackluster offense that is nothing to shout about.
On offense Mariota completed just 20 of his 35 passes and they relied on a run game which averaged five yards per carry to get them through this game. It is not a game that will have inspired confidence in their fans. However, at the end of Week 13 they will still have some sort of shot at the playoffs and that is the most important thing.
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