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A Look At The AFC South Race

Indy and Tennessee won this week. What’s happening around the division?

Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Entering Week Ten, Houston had a game and a half lead over the Titans and a two and a half game lead over the Colts in the AFC South. Football Outsiders gave the Texans a 72.5% chance at winning the division, the Titans a 14.2% chance, the Colts a 9.5% chance, and the Jaguars a 3.9% chance. You can’t win by losing, but you can lose by not playing, as both the Titans, who beat the Patriots 34-10, and the Colts, who ended the Jaguars’ season by beating them 29-26, have made the AFC South something more than an impending conclusion. It’s an actually interesting race.

When the Titans lost by one point in England to the Chargers, I didn’t think anything of it. Both their end game plays were super dumb, even if I agreed Mike Vrabel was correct for going for it. After a three game losing streak and the Titans continually to be mediocre at everything while not great at anything, I stopped TITANING UP and lost enthusiasm for their slogging brand of football. When they beat the Cowboys 28-14 on Monday Night Football, I didn’t think much of it. Dallas threw a red zone interception and missed an easy field goal. Tennessee’s offense was horrendous, and despite some spectacular Marcus Mariota downfield throws, I wasn’t ready to get rah-rah-sis-boom-bah over it.

But then the Titans beat the Patriots, in November, by 24 points. Tom Brady completed a little more than half of his attempts. Derrick Henry finally did something. Dion Lewis was angry and now he’s happy. The Titans are now one game behind Houston. Now we all have to think about them.

The Colts have the best offensive line Andrew Luck has had since he joined the league. Their defense is mediocre, but now has integral pieces they can build around when they finally spend their $100+ million in impending cap space next year. And Andrew Luck has once again become a monster. After obliterating two of the worst teams in football in Buffalo and Oakland, I didn’t think much of it. Then Luck completed 21 of 29 for 285 yards, threw 3 touchdowns and just 1 interception against a top ten passing offense, all while distributing the ball to everyone. With a win over the Jaguars, the Colts are back in it.

This weekend, the Colts and Titans play head-to-head in Indianapolis. After that, the Colts get Miami, head to Jacksonville, and then head to Houston. If Indianapolis beats Tennessee this weekend, 7-5 isn’t an impossibility.

For their part, the Titans get the Texans on Monday Night following this week’s game. If they win that, and the Texans slip up against the NFC East leaders in Maryland this weekend, the Titans could be a game up on Houston with the tiebreaker.

The NFL sometimes gets us get lost in the week-to-week heartstring yanking. We ignore the big picture. We toss away teams when they run cold for a bit. Teams like the Texans, whose three game losing streak occurred at the beginning of the year. Both the Titans and Colts dealt with the same and since have been resuscitated.

I don’t think either team will eclipse Houston at the end of it, though. Of Indianapolis and Tennessee, the Colts are worse, but they’re better equipped to take advantage of Houston’s secondary. The Titans are the better team, but they need to run the ball to survive, something Houston has obliterated. Whoever wins their game in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon will become the number one contender in the AFC South and have the opportunity to make the division winner questionable instead of a foregone conclusion.

Poll

Which Team Is More Likely To Upset Houston And Win The AFC South?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Tennessee Titans
    (301 votes)
  • 44%
    Indianapolis Colts
    (246 votes)
547 votes total Vote Now