State of the AFC South Following Week 3

John Shipley

Week 3 is in the books and the AFC South's standings have shifted yet again. The division, like all others, will change and reshape each week, and such was the case again this week when the division went 2-2 in four non-division contests. 

There are still 13 games to be played for each team, but early jockeying for a leading position in the division is already taking place. Through three weeks, what does the division look like now? 

AFC South standings

  1. Tennessee Titans (3-0, 1-0): The Titans have squeaked by in each of their victories this season, but wins in the NFL are simply hard to come by. They are in a commanding first place.
  2. Indianapolis Colts (2-1, 0-1): After dropping a Week 1 road opener to the Jaguars, the Colts have picked up two consecutive wins against winless teams (Vikings and Jets) and have catapulted into second place in the AFC South. 
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-2, 1-1): Jacksonville started the season off hot with an impressive divisional win over the Colts, but they have since dropped their last two games. This includes a divisional loss to the Titans in Week 2. It was just a three-point loss, but it hurt the Jaguars in the standings nonetheless. 
  4. Houston Texans (0-3, 0-0): No team in the NFL has gotten a tougher schedule in the first three games of the season than Houston. Opening the season with the Chiefs, Ravens, and Steelers is brutal, which explains Houston's poor record more than anything else does. 

Jacksonville Jaguars

What to like: There aren't many positives to talk about following an ugly loss to the Dolphins on Thursday, but if there is one highlight it is rookie running back James Robinson. Robinson hasn't had a single negative rushing attempt in the last two weeks and he has proven to be an impact player on the ground and as a receiver. He has as many touchdowns (three) this season as Leonard Fournette did in 15 games last season, and he is averaging 6.4 yards per touch thus far -- an upgrade from the 5.1 yards per touch Fournette recorded in his career-year last season.

What to dislike: Three games and three sacks by the defense. Jacksonville had roughly double-digit sacks this time last season, but so far their defensive line has managed to record just two sacks, with none coming from the interior defensive line. Myles Jack also has a sack, but his Week 1 sack of Jacoby Brissett near the goal line wasn't exactly your typical pass-rush. 

Next opponent: The Jaguars will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals this Sunday.

Indianapolis Colts

What to like: After a rough start to the season in Jacksonville, the Colts have managed to pull off two-straight victories. And in doing so, they somehow are the best defense in the NFL in terms of points per game allowed, all while allowing 27 points to the Jaguars in Week 1. The Colts have allowed just 18 points over the last two weeks, and while one of those games was against the lowly Jets it is still impressive that the Colts' defense has rebounded from a bad season-opener. 

What to dislike: The Colts have only played against one team with a win this season (the Jaguars in Week 1) ... and they lost that game. The Jets and Vikings are both 0-6, meaning the Colts' opponents this year have a combined record of 1-8. The Colts are far from being a bad team, but they still need to prove they can be a good team. And the only way to prove that is by beating quality teams. 

Next opponent: The Colts will travel to Chicago to play the Bears this Sunday. 

Houston Texans

What to like: It is hard to find many positives in an 0-3 start, but Houston can at least take solace in the fact that Deshaun Watson is coming off of his best game after Week 3 against Pittsburgh. Going up against a tough Steelers defense, with a front that easily overwhelmed Houston's offensive line, Watson was able to complete 19-of-27 passes (70.37%) for 264 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He finished the game with a season-high quarterback rating of 110.7. He also passed for 9.78 yards per attempt and 9.59 adjusted yards per attempt, a good day at the office for the star quarterback.

What to dislike: In a year in which Houston has major investments at every single spot on the offensive line, the Texans haven't been able to block a single front they have gone up against. They have allowed at least four sacks in each contest, including five against the Steelers in Week 3. Watson is running for his life more often than not whenever he drops back, and this was supposed to be the one year in which this wasn't the case. 

Next opponent: The Texans will host the 0-3 Vikings in Houston on Sunday.

Tennessee Titans

What to like: Derrick Henry finally got going in Week 3, scoring two late touchdowns and rushing for 119 yards (4.6 yards per carry) in Tennessee's narrow Week 3 win over Minnesota. Henry had been kept out of the end zone and limited in the first two games of the season, but he was the driving force behind the Titans' success on the road in Week 3.

What to dislike: Three games against teams with losing records, three narrow wins. The Titans have played one team with a win thus far this year (Jaguars in Week 2) but have won games by the following margins: 2 points, 3 points and 1 point. The Titans have played bad teams this year but they have been barely leaving each week with a victory; that will have to change as they continue to push for a playoff spot. 

Next opponent: The Titans will host the Steelers in Nashville on Sunday.

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