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AFC South State of the Division: Week 9

It was a wild finish for the Colts and Texans on Sunday night but in the end not much changed within the suddenly stable AFC South. The pecking order remained the same and the world continued spinning as expected.

How we arrived at this point is bizarre tale however. The Jaguars rested following having their best home crowd this season in London. The Titans knocked off the Rams with Jeff Fisher at the helm on the opposite sideline. The Texans played bully to Andrew Luck until he masterminded another 4th quarter comeback. To say the least, it was a pretty exciting week in the AFC South.

Indianapolis Colts (6-2)

Through the first half against the Houston Texans the Colts looked like a team badly missing Reggie Wayne. Andrew Luck's completion percentage was dismal and his protection looked as bad as it has all season. J.J. Watt had become a painful reminder that the Colts still have much work to do on the offensive line. 

Then something magical happened: Andrew Luck remembered who he is. With less than a minute left in the third quarter Andrew Luck settled in and took over the game. Over the remaining 16 minutes Luck seemingly overcame Pep Luck's horrific gameplan and formed a Vulcan mindmeld with receiver T.Y. Hilton. Suddenly the Texans pass rush looked anemic as Luck diced up the secondary with ease. In short order Luck had completed yet another comeback in his short career.

There were glaring weaknesses this team needs to clean up quickly. Special teams were abysmal early and must avoid those kind of mistakes down the stretch. The offensive line and Trent Richardson all gave up too many easy sacks by simply blowing assignments. The defensive pressure was non-existant early against a rookie QB and it showed.

At this moment the Colts sit on a two game lead in the division and can wrap up a playoff berth early given their schedule the rest of the way. 

Tennessee Titans (4-4)

The Titans beat Jeff Fisher.

Let that sit in a minute. Yeah. Fisher.

It still surprises me that Bud Adams would have fired Fisher for Mike Munchak. Granted, the Titans are on the bubble for a playoff spot and still could rattle off enough wins to earn a division crown. Still, this team is a shadow of itself due to poor personnel decisions.

This year the Titans are having the kind of middling year they were expected to have. Had the Texans not gone belly-up the Titans would be third in the division with little or no hopes for the playoffs. Yet through scrapiness they're in the hunt.

For their part the Titans brought their best: Chris Johnson. Johnson's return to form was much needed as the Titans fought to stay at .500 after a three game skid. His 150 yards were key to beating the Rams whose season is on the ropes following the loss of Sam Bradford. 

The Titans are two games back in the division now and must face the Colts twice over the next four weeks. Their season will be defined by those two matchups.

Houston Texans (2-6)

Gary Kubiak suffered a mini-stroke at halftime. His collapse along with savvy Colts adjustments at the half changed the complexion of a game the Texans had wrapped up early.

The Texans can't finish. They lack killer instinct and that showed in their late meltdown against the Colts. A young QB was slowed by defensive adjustments, a defense got shredded by a bright quarterback and the Texans lost their sixth game of the season. It's hard to pinpoint what is wrong but it is clear this team has derailed.

Let me first say that benching Schaub was the right move. Casey Keenum looked great most of the night. He made few mistakes and actually played pretty well after the adjustments. His progress was limited following the scheme changes made by the Colts but in all he had a terrific night. Andre Johnson disappeared in the second half which took away big-strike opportunities but in all the quarterbacking was the best the Texans have seen all season.

What is clearly wrong is Ed Reed. He's done. Let's just admit his ability to make big plays is in his past.

Despite what others are saying I don't buy that their window is closed. This team features the best defense in the league and good skill players. With Keenum possibly growing into his role and a few key additions the Texans can quickly regain their footing.

Jacksonville Jaguars (0-8)

The Jaguars got their only respite this week in the form of a bye. Gus Bradley and his incredibly inexperienced staff needed a break to regroup.

If I can criticize the Jags for anything it is their attempt to give coaches with no experience a shot. This team needs better position coaches and coordinators. I understand growing their own but the practice is killing the team. The defense is horrible but the offense is legendarily bad. They can't expect to go anywhere with Chad Henne running for his life while Maurice Jones-Drew has a middling season. Toss in Justin Blackmon's utter implosion for good measure and you've got a full meltdown. That's a leadership issue and the team badly needs some coaches with experience to even it out. 

The Jaguars won't win (m)any this year unless they figure out a way to play as a team. That's on the coaching staff.

Todd Smith

About Todd Smith

Todd Smith is a part-time sportswriter who spends too much time arguing on Twitter. What he really loves is eating poorly and watching football. He got his first Colts t-shirt in 1984 shortly after the Mayflower trucks arrived and has never given up on his hometown team. He also still holds to the belief that Kordell Stewart stepped out of the end zone and thus cheated the Colts.

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