What Are the Colts Chances to Win a Wide Open AFC South?
After five weeks, the Colts sit just one game out of first-place in a jumbled AFC South.
At 2-3, Indianapolis trails the first-place Jacksonville Jaguars (3-2) by one game in the AFC South, and are tied with the Houston Texans (2-3) and Tennessee Titans (2-3) for second place.
With no clear-cut favorite to take the division crown, what chances do the Colts have to win the AFC South for the first time since 2014? Let’s break down each teams chances.
Jacksonville is the only team in the AFC South to have never won the division championship, but you could argue that the early returns in 2017 give the Jaguars their best chance to do just that.
At 3-2, the Jaguars lead the AFC South going into Week 6. Jacksonville leads the NFL in rushing with an average of 165.2 yards per game.
Rookie running back Leonard Fournette is making a strong case for Offensive Rookie of the Year. The LSU product has racked up 466 yards with a touchdown in the Jags’ first five games this season.
The Jacksonville defense is what sets them apart from their AFC South counterparts. The Jaguars are 6th in the league so far this year in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score only 16.6 points per game.
The Colts (32nd), Titans (30th) and Texans (28th) all rank in the bottom five in scoring defense through the first five weeks.
Next: Andrew Luck Reportedly Unlikely to Return this Month
Speaking of Offensive Rookie of the Year, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has become a contender for the award as well.
After head coach Bill O’Brien yanked quarterback Tom Savage during the Texans opener against Jacksonville, Watson has gone on a tear. He’s completed 62% of his passes for 1,072 yards and 12 touchdowns to begin his rookie year.
While the Texans‘ offense, ranked 4th in the NFL in scoring, is cruising along to the tune of 28.8 points per game, their normally reliable defense has struggled. Sunday night, Houston lost perennial All-Pro J.J. Watt and pass-rushing specialist Whitney Mercillus to season-end injuries.
The Tennessee Titans were picked by many pundits to win the AFC South this season. Through five weeks, the Titans have looked anything but dominant, going 2-3 and losing starting quarterback Marcus Mariota to a hamstring injury.
With Mariota sidelined, the Titans turned to veteran Matt Cassel, who has looked unimpressive as Mariota’s stand-in. Mariota is listed as day-to-day, but even when the third-year quarterback returns, one might question his durability going forward due to his propensity to use his legs to make plays.
However, the Titans have been dominant in the run game, totaling 624 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns. DeMarco Murray is averaging almost 5 yards a pop and second-year running back Derrick Henry is averaging 4.3 yards per attempt.
More from Horseshoe Heroes
- Colts explored hiring former quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky
- When is the NFL Combine 2023? NFL Combine schedule, events, how to stream
- Latest NFL mock draft has Colts trading up to No. 1 for star QB
- Eagles offensive free agents that could follow Shane Steichen to Colts
- Here’s why Colts linebacker Shaq Leonard is going to love Shane Steichen
The Colts play the Titans Monday night in Nashville. If the Colts can manage a win, they will be the only team in the AFC South without a divisional loss.
The Colts’ defense is currently allowing a league leading 31.8 points per game. But in two of the last three games, Indianapolis has held opposing running backs to less than 70 yards rushing.
With last week’s emergence of rookie running back Marlon Mack, the big-play ability of T.Y. Hilton and the hopefully imminent return of Andrew Luck, the Colts’ offense has the potential to become very explosive.
Three of the Colts’ next four games are against division opponents. If the Colts can win at least two of those games, they stand a good chance to stay in the hunt for the AFC South Championship until the end of the season.