Week 8 Results and Their Effect on the AFC South Playoff Race

HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Marcus Mariota
HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 01: Marcus Mariota /
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Checking in on the AFC South after Week 8 Results within the division.

Important quarterback news in the AFC South on November 2nd has massively altered the playoff outlooks of all four teams in the division. The Indianapolis Colts’ playoff hopes had already been fading, but with Andrew Luck finally being placed on Injured Reserve, the Colts can no longer even dream of Luck returning and leading the team on a run into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Houston Texans were very much in the playoff race, riding the stellar play of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans seemed to have finally found their quarterback of the future after years of mediocre play from the position, but in a cruel twist of fate, their young quarterback tore his ACL in a non-contact injury at practice and is out for the season.

With these two developments, this division is Tennessee’s or Jacksonville’s to lose. Both teams come off of their bye and face an AFC North opponent in Week 9. Heading into their bye, both teams sported identical records, with Tennessee owning the tiebreaker after defeating Jacksonville earlier in the season. That said, the trajectory of these teams could not have been more different heading into their bye. The Titans barely escaped with two wins against the Colts and the Cleveland Browns, while the Jaguars have exceeded expectations and completely changed their team’s identity to great success.

However, time and time again in the NFL, it is not how you start but rather how you finish that determines whether or not a team makes noise in the playoffs. The Jaguars must maintain their performance while hoping the Titans do not recover their 2016 offensive form and that the Texans do not find a way to function without Watson. The Titans must recover their offensive identity while hoping that Blake Bortles ruins the Jaguars’ game plan and that Tom Savage can not effectively keep Houston in games. Obviously, there are many factors in play that will shape the narrative in the AFC South as we head down the stretch.

After eight weeks, the standings in the AFC South are as follows.

  1. Titans 4-3 (division leader on tiebreakers)
  2. Jaguars 4-3
  3. Texans 3-4
  4. Colts 2-6

Let’s examine the results from Week 8 for each AFC South team and what it means for their playoff hopes.