Why The AFC South Is This Year’s Toughest Division

The AFC South features four teams who all have a chance to make a run at the AFC playoffs. The Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans have each seen small success recently (All four have been playoff teams within the last two seasons) so their competitiveness has definitely run strong recently.

Amidst a new coaching and owner change in Tennessee in 2018 the Titans still remained in the playoff race until the final few weeks of the season saw them finish with a 9-7 record that was third in the division. The Titans are consistent with their seventh ranked rushing attacked which features tailback Derrick Henry however quarterback Marcus Mariota has failed to live up to his potential as a passer (He threw 26 touchdowns in 2016 but only 24 in the past two seasons combined) and that has hindered the team’s play. If their passing offense could catch up to their running one the Titans would easily have a top 10 offense in the league and be in the playoff race every season. They’re definitely not a punching bag though with a tough defense that was ranked eighth last season in yards yielded and tenth in sacks. Watch out for the Titans as they look to become a complete team and take the AFC South for the first time since 2008.

Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans enjoyed an 11-5 season en route to their third division title in the last four seasons despite a slow 0-3 start to the season. Three-time defensive player of the year J.J. Watt and Jadaveon Clowney combined for 25 of the team’s 43 sacks on the season. Deshaun Watson enjoyed an great season with 31 total touchdowns (26 passing, 5 rushing) which was aided by DeAndre Hopkins having his best year as a pro with 115 receptions for 1,572 yards (Career highs) and 11 touchdowns. Their stance in the division over the past four seasons has proved them to be the top dog in the division and therefore every team is trying to emulate that they’ve done to achieve success. Their tenacious defense along with a steady offense that doesn’t turn the football over is exactly the recipe that has been kept that consistently in the playoffs. However, they still have to find a way to get over the hump and get to at least the conference championship.

What happened to the Jaguars in 2018? After a conference championship appearance in 2017 the expectations for the Jags entering last season were sky high. They started the season off 3-1 and looked like the best team in the AFC entering October, then reality hit. Blake Bortles play at quarterback declined so bad that Cody Kessler started a few games and even he couldn’t help the Jags as they slipped into a seven game funk before finishing the season 4-12. Their defense didn’t play as well as they did in 2017 when they led the league in sacks while having the best defense in the league. For the most part they kept the same defense (They traded Dante Fowler to the Rams in the middle of the season) but every player took a step back in production causing a whole lack of big plays out of the group. This season they’ll have former Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles under center and Leonard Fournette should be fully healthy after a disappointing season in which he failed to even rush for 500 yards in only eight games played so their offense should be revamped. Will it be enough to compliment the defense and make the Jags playoff contenders in 2019?

The Indianapolis Colts looked like the best team in the AFC South despite a slow 1-5 start to the season. QB Andrew Luck came back from injury and was able to throw for 39 touchdowns on a career high 67.3 completion percentage. He got help from his defense anchored by last year’s defensive rookie of the year Darius Leonard who will receive additional help with free agent Justin Houston coming over from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: