Football is truly back. The first week of the NFL season is in the books and boy, did the AFC South have a Sunday. After all, the 1-3 AFC South is one of three divisions that saw just one team win on Sunday (though, the NFC North went 0-4).
From the Jacksonville Jaguars' opening loss to how the rest of the division is shaping up through the first week of the preseason, we look at every team's opening weekend and what it could mean for the AFC South moving forward.
AFC South standings
- Houston Texans (1-0, 1-0): The Texans shocked the league and toppled the Jaguars 37-21.
- Indianapolis Colts (0-1, 0-0): The Colts dropped a home opener on Sunday, losing 28-16 to the Seattle Seahawks in the first start of the Carson Wentz era.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (0-1, 0-1): That was a wake-up call. The Jaguars are now staring down the barrel of a 16-game losing streak after Sunday's 37-21 loss.
- Tennessee Titans (0-1, 0-0): Much like the Colts, the Titans failed at home in Week 1, losing in Nashville 38-13 as Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals made it look easy.
What to like: Well ... This is tough to answer after Week 1. The Jaguars lost by multiple scores against a journeyman quarterback, a first-year head coach, and a Texans team that underwent more turnover this offseason than any other team in recent memory. With that said, the Jaguars can genuinely feel excited about the flashes from No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, even if his NFL-leading three interceptions during the opening-weekend were a result of sloppy play. Lawrence looked like a veteran quarterback in terms of his ability to navigate the pocket and make tough throws amid pressure, and according to Pro Football Focus, few quarterbacks were better on play-action.
What to dislike: Just about everything else? The Jaguars failed to line up properly on both sides of the ball (and even on special teams!) on a few different occasions, which simply shouldn't happen at the NFL level, no matter if it is Week 1 or not. The Jaguars took the preseason extremely seriously, playing the starters for much of the three games. Despite that, the Jaguars look completely unprepared to play a game in all aspects on Sunday, instead looking more like the team that was supposed to be the overmatched underdog.
Next opponent: The Jaguars will host the 1-0 Denver Broncos at TIAA Bank Field in Week 2.
What to like: The Colts likely aren't too upset with what they saw from Carson Wentz in his debut. He missed on a few throws and made a few bad decisions under pressure, but his first start could have gone a lot more like his 2020 starts. Wentz was a middle-of-the-pack quarterback in Week 1 (25th in EPA per play), but he looked comfortable in the Colts' scheme behind a rough offensive line outing and still made several high-level throws that will give the Colts a chance. Expectations for Wentz were low, and he didn't blow those out of the water, but he was far from a disaster.
What to dislike: The Colts are going to need to find a way to find the end zone more. They had a strange game plan on Sunday, especially considering the fact that most of the attempts on Sunday were designed to go to tight ends and running backs despite the Seahawks' cornerbacks being their true weak spot. As a result, the Colts finished with just 1.55 points per drive, the eighth-worst figure of the entire weekend (but still ahead of the Titans and Jaguars). The Colts don't have a dominant defense, so they will need to get Wentz' high-level throws to happen more frequently and potentially even deeper down the field to give them a chance to win each week.
Next opponent: The Colts will host the 1-0 Los Angeles Rams next Sunday, a potentially extremely difficult test for Frank Reich's squad.
What to like: Tyrod Taylor had one of the best games of his entire career against the Jaguars. The 10th-year veteran shredded Joe Cullen's man-heavy scheme, finding a ton of success throwing downfield, resulting in multiple explosive gains through the air. This included completions of 40 and 52 yards to Brandin Cooks on pinpoint throws that, frankly, made no sense as completions. Taylor had a few errant throws, but he was on the money when the Texans needed him to be and his legs provided a much-needed dual-threat element to their offense.
What to dislike: The Texans had one of the most positive opening weekends of any team, in large part due to the fact that they blew all expectations out of water. Still, the Texans were forced to waste an active roster spot, and thus an inactive game-day roster designation, on quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Texans and the NFL have each completely bungled Watson and the investigations into him, and each Sunday that he is actually on the inactive list while the investigation continues is a pretty awful look.
Next opponent: Houston will travel to play the 0-1 Cleveland Browns, one of the top picks for this year's AFC title.
What to like: This is tough to answer because the Titans got beat down even worse than the Jaguars did. The Titans faced a much better team, of course, but the Cardinals made it look easy. With that said, the Titans can take solace in the fact that A.J. Brown still looked like A.J. Brown. The third-year receiver only caught four of his eight targets, but he made several grabs that would make anybody go "wow". He is one of the NFL's best young talents and it even shows on days where the Titans get their teeth kicked in like Week 1.
What to dislike: Chandler Jones made Taylor Lewan -- a good left tackle -- look like a freshman on a junior varsity squad. From the first play of the game when Jones blew up a running blow by blowing past Lewan for a big loss, right down to Jones' strip-sack and subsequent five sacks, it was just total domination from Jones. The rest of the Titans' offensive line was bad, too, with the Titans among the NFL leaders in sacks allowed and pressure rate through the first week of the season. For a team that prides itself on its toughness, the Titans were bullied on Sunday.
Next opponent: The Titans will travel to Seattle to play the 1-0 Seahawks on Sunday, giving the Seahawks their second consecutive game against an AFC South foe.