Photo credit: Keith Allison
Author: Joey Carr
On paper, the dreadful AFC South should be dominated by one team and one team alone: the Indianapolis Colts. They have the most talent by far, highlighted by a top tier quarterback in Andrew Luck, great receivers like T.Y. Hilton, and playmakers on defense such as Vontae Davis and Robert Mathis. However, through 7 weeks the Colts stand at 3-4, and have just a one game hold on the division they’ve dominated for the past few years. With a daunting schedule ahead of Indy and mediocrity lurking in the rest of the AFC South, will we see another below .500 team win their division?
Everyone who follows the NFL knows that the AFC South division has been the poorest division in terms of winning percentage for the better part of 8 years. They rarely have a tight race for the division title and usually have at least one team fighting for the number one draft pick. It’s well documented that a few teams in the NFL have been in the basement of their division for several years, and two of them are in the AFC South: the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. For some reason these two southern teams can’t find that one player that will turn their entire franchise around, like the Colts found in Andrew Luck and the Rams seem to have found in Todd Gurley. Sure, every year they have tons of “potential” but never any concrete, known playmakers. Take the Jaguars for example: Blake Bortles was taken with the 3rd overall pick in 2014, and was labeled as the next franchise quarterback. As most know, he had an average rookie season at best and is still trying to find his way this season. T.J. Yeldon looks promising in his rookie campaign but so did Jamarcus Russell, so we’ll wait and see if the former Alabama running back can energize the Jags offense. Things just haven’t been working out draft wise or offseason wise for this Florida team, which has put them at the bottom of the NFL for almost a decade. However, with a young and encouraging receiving corps along with the unknown ceiling of Blake Bortles, the Jags might be finding the light at the end of the tunnel sooner rather than later.
One of the most surprising things of this NFL season has been the Colts performance. They currently sit at 3-4 and while they have a lead in the division, it’s safe to say that no one believes in Indy’s ability to keep hold of that lead. They’ve been thoroughly embarrassed in a majority of their losses and their wins are tainted with some good fortune and timely mistakes by the opposing team. If not for three division wins, the Colts could very well be 1-5 right now. They’re not performing close to what was expected of them in Andrew Luck’s fourth year as a starter, and if they keep trending in the direction they are, some coaching and player overhaul could occur. It’s no secret that head coach Chuck Pagano seems to be on his way out, but he can’t be entirely blamed for his team’s lack of production. The injury bug has been a big factor for this team this year and while Pagano did authorize the attempt of possibly the worst trick play in history last Sunday against New England, he doesn’t deserve all of the responsibility for the Colt’s 3-4 record. Still, the fact remains that the likes of Houston and Jacksonville are only 1 game out of first place, and with the Colts remaining schedule (CAR, DEN, ATL, TB, PIT, etc.), it will be no
surprise to see another team take the reigns from Indy. However, no one is going to run away with this division, considering the fact that there is simply not enough talent or execution in the division as a whole right now.
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