Another week in the books and it seems as though the rich get rich and the poor get poorer in the world of the AFC South. It looks as though the division is on track to put only two teams in the playoffs this season (Titans and Colts), down from the impressive three it got in last year. Really though (and I swear I’m not trying to be a homer here), only one team in this division looks like they are for real. I’ll let you guess who I’m thinking of. The wins aren’t always pretty for either club, but if the season were to end today, the Titans would have the one seed, a first-round bye and home field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Colts would be the five seed (I believe) with a date in Denver against the Broncos. Again, that is if the playoffs were to begin tomorrow, so there is nothing set in stone, and there is still a lot of football left to be played. Stay tuned.
Looking Back: It’s not often that Houston gets a chance to welcome Mike Tirico and the Monday Night Football gang to their, um… large, fragrant city. In fact, it’s never happened since the franchise joined the league in 2002. So, given the chance to show off in front of a national audience against the lowly Jaguars, the Texans certainly didn’t disappoint. They almost assuredly won’t finish in last place in the division with the win (first time since 2004), and minus a couple of bad breaks and boneheaded plays throughout the season, this team could realistically be 7-5 instead. They’ve got a great RB-WR duo in rookie Steve Slaton and stud Andre Johnson, and a good, young QB in Matt Schaub (who didn’t play on Monday because of a sprained MCL) so the future seems bright. Not like bright bright, but maybe dimly bright. Maybe…
Looking Forward: The Texans have a schedule filled with question marks on it the rest of the way. Next week, they travel north to Green Bay to take on the enigma that is the Packers. Which team they find playing host (is it the one that clobbered the Bears in week 11, or the one that layed a dud on MNF last week against the Saints?) is anyone’s guess. Then they have the Titans at home (hate it for ya’) before traveling to Oakland (I think that’s a win) and then hosting the Bears in the season finale (much like the Packers, who knows what team will show up in Houston). The Texans may not get their first winning season in franchise history this year, but this team is making progress. Maybe…
Looking Back: Well, I promised Black & Teal lead blogger Jeanne that I wouldn’t do this, but man are the Jaguars bad. The offense is in shambles (the Jags did not score 17 points in the MNF game) and the defense is equally atrocious against both the run and the pass. As she would be quick to point out though, they have been as decimated by injuries this season as any team in the league. I will give her that. Still though, this team has lost five of its last six, with that “win” coming against Detroit and with losses to the then 0-8 Bungals Bengals and the Browns sprinkled in there. Not pretty. Maybe we should stop with all of this reflecting. Let’s move on.
Looking forward: The Jags remaining schedule looks like this: at Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis and then at Baltimore to close out the season. Yikes. Don’t really see a win in there anywhere, so that means the Jags would theoretically finish 4-12. Double yikes. Well, at least the season is almost over. I guess that’s a plus. Something to “look forward” to if you will. It’s hard to really gauge what the state of the Jags is right now. Personally, I think that Del Rio needs to go and that they need to clean house and start new, but given the expectations this team had on it coming into this season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them give it one more go with what they’ve got. We shall see. Either way, I’m pissed because it’s hard to hate them as much when they’re so bad. So very, very bad.
Looking Back: The Colts have won 5 in a row, keeping them in the playoffs were the season to end today. Look a little closer, though, and it’s not so pretty. After the Week 8 loss to the Titans, the Colts had impressive wins against New England and Pittsburgh (on the road), but the next three wins have all been against sub .500 teams, and have been less than convincing. All in all, Indy’s five game winning streak has seen them win by an average of 4 points per contest. Anyone who watched Sunday’s “game” can attest to how bad the Colts looked against the maligned Browns, managing one touchdown which came from a returned fumble. Peyton’s line: 15/21, 125 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT.
Looking Forward: The good news for Indianapolis is that the combined win total of their next three opponents is five. The Colts have Cincinnati and Detroit at home, then Jacksonville on the road. I can’t think of a friendlier possible schedule than that. If Indy does indeed win those three games, Week 17 against Tennessee probably won’t matter, because their theoretical 11 wins will probably have already wrapped up a wild card spot. Then again, if the Colts are capable of playing like they did in Cleveland, nothing is assured.
Tennessee Titans (11-1):
Looking Back: The Titans righted the ship in front of a national audience on Thursday, putting their lone loss behind them while destroying the winless Detroit Lions. Kerry Collins had to do very little in the game, which was dominated on the ground by Chris Johnson and LenDale White. The defense got back into the act as well, scoring a TD and holding the Lions (yes, they’re still a NFL team) to a long FG (53 yards) and a short TD drive (2 yards to be exact). Vince Young even made an appearance, connecting with Ahmard Hall for a 54-yard completion in his only attempt.
Looking Forward: Tennessee has some extra recuperation time before hosting the Browns on Sunday. Cleveland is without their first and second string quarterbacks for the remainder of the season, so if we’re lucky, there might be some outside chance of seeing Drew Henson for the second week in a row. With the Jets loss, the Titans are one step closer to securing home field advantage throughout the playoffs. A Steelers loss to Tennessee, Baltimore or Dallas would allow the Titans to finish 2-2 (which reasonably looks like the worst case scenario with the Browns and Texans being two of their four opponents). Either way, their destiny is totally in their own hands.