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AFC South Breakdown: Week Three


(Jeanne Alexis writes for Black & Teal, which is FSB‘s Jacksonville Jaguars blog. Representing the rest of the AFC South are Naptown’s Finest, Titan Sized and Toro Times.)

Last year, the AFC South looked like one of the most dominating divisions in football. Like the NFC East, the AFC South sent three representatives to the playoffs. It looked like 2008 would be a repeat. After all, not that much had changed, right? The Colts still had Peyton Manning, right? The Jaguars drafted guys to help their pass rush problem and the only way they could go was up, right? The Titans still had Vince Young and their collection of misfit, stone-handed receivers so they had no change, right?

Well, week three of the 2008 season is in the books and the Titans are sitting on top with a healthy two game berth over the rest of the AFC South. They share the divisional leader privilege with teams like the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos and Baltimore Ravens. I don’t know what happened to my NFL, but I think I like this bizarro league. However, the Texans are winless. At least there is some sense of normality.

Houston Texans (0-2):

Looking back: Texans football was probably the last thing on the minds of Texas residents. Many people in Houston didn’t even have power to watch the game. Maybe it was for the better. The Texans only managed 12 points (including a botched extra point) even though they got inside the 14 six times. It didn’t help that Matt Schaub got pretty personal with the Titans’ defensive line as they sacked him three times. He even sent them gifts he liked them so much — three interceptions that sealed the loss.

Looking forward: How much hope can Texans fans really have? The Texan’s playoff chances are destroyed but that doesn’t mean they can’t shoot for their first winning record in franchise history. Unfortunately, they are facing a tough road if they want to do that. Next week they are going up against a pumped-up Jaguars team at The Jack. Then they face off against the Colts. It is their first home game of the season.  To top it all off, they don’t even have a bye week to look forward to. Perhaps they can hope for an after-the-storm resurgence like the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, Matt Schaub is no Drew Brees.

Indianapolis Colts (1-2):

Looking back: The Jacksonville Jaguars have finally found a winning strategy against the Colts: don’t let them have the ball. Ever. We saw what happened when the Jaguars let Peyton Manning touch the ball late in the fourth quarter. That ball was in the end zone so quick that if you had gone for a bathroom break you would have completely missed it. From the rumblings I’ve heard, some Colts fans are blaming Manning partially for the loss because he knowingly let the defense stay on the field too long. I think that is kind of a weak excuse, but there is no doubt that Manning hasn’t quite returned to form and the loss of Bob Sanders is a critical one. There was a shine of the Colts we all know and dread playing as Manning lined up for the two minute drill.

Looking forward: The Colts having problems with run defense isn’t a new story. What is a new feeling for them is that they are sitting third in the division. Sorry, Colts fans. The rest of the AFC South is rejoicing. No one likes it when someone wins too much. With that said, I really don’t know if they can hold up against that dreaded ‘bye’ they have on their schedule next week. It may actually allow players to (gasp) heal up and work on cohesion! The horror, the horror!

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2):

Looking back: Is it really so strange to think that week three could decide a team’s future? It certainly did for the Jaguars. Jaguars fans knew this would be a difficult season with all three divisional foes in the first four weeks, but they could not have predicted the injuries they would suffer. The offensive line is held together with duct tape and a whole lot of hope. Surprisingly,  the hope/duct tape combination seemed to match up perfect with the Colts’ smal-sized defensive line and the Jaguars finally established a ground game that they had been so desperately missing. Josh Scobee’s amazing 51-yard kick sealed the win in a last-minute nail biter. Hey baby, the Cardiac Cats are back!

Looking forward: Is Jerry Porter the deep threat the Jaguars have searched so long for? It is obvious that they need one. At this point, the opposing team doesn’t have a very hard game plan to come up with: stack the box. It is all they have to do. Sometimes Matt Jones catches a first down (which, by the way, he has been fantastic at) but the most the secondary has to worry about is if Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew break out a run. The Jaguars are facing up against the Texans next week and they are a team that the Jags traditionally have trouble with. In fact, the Jags traditionally have trouble with the AFC South. Another divisional win would do the Jaguars wonders at this point in the season.

Tennessee Titans (3-0):

Looking back: I gotta admit, the Titans look strong. How could you say anything else with them sitting high in the AFC South? The Jaguars taking out Vince Young in the first game was probably the worst thing to happen to all the other teams the Titans play. Not only that but their defense is scary. However, how much of it is their defensive line and how much of it is the teams they’ve played? The combined wins of the teams they’ve defeated is at a grand total of one. Does it really matter, though? The rest of the AFC South will be playing catch up for most of the season.

Looking forward: Next week the Titans take a break from their conquering of the AFC South as they take on their first NFC North opponent of the year: the Minnesota Vikings. This may be the test the Titans are looking for to prove that they are as great as they look. Will the Titans be able to contain the Vikings’ run game? Will the Vikings make Kerry Collins look as old as he is? This should be a really exciting match up.