AFC South Preview and Predictions: Week 5

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC South

Are we ready for some (more) football?  Expectations are high in week 5 for our week 4 lovable losers.  Okay, so the Colts won and the Jaguars should have won in week 4, but you get the idea.  I’ve said it before, its not a particularly competitive division, but it could be if the Texans win, the Titans win and the Jaguars win in week 5.

Indianapolis Colts (2-2) & Houston Texans (1-3)

Indianapolis ColtsHouston Texans

Indianapolis Colts @ Houston Texans

The Colts: In week 4, the Indianapolis Colts just barely took home a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime, continuing their division winning streak.  Will the Colts continue with another division win Thursday night?

Andrew Luck told the Indystar on Tuesday that he was preparing to start in Thursday’s divisional game.

Andrew Luck - Getty Images

Andrew Luck – Getty Images

But, will Luck’s presence be the game changer?  The Colts were able to get a win in week 4 with backup veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck.  Frank Gore and Vontae Davis are currently angling to play in Thursday’s game.  But, how effective will either be playing hurt, particularly Gore with a foot injury?  In week 4, he had only 53 rushing yards and fumbled the ball (again) within the 5-yard line.  The Colts will need a strong running game with Luck’s injury.  “Luckily”, Luck will have Donte Moncrief, T.Y. Hilton, Phillip Dorsett, Andre Johnson and Coby Fleener to target down field.  However, with a partially separated shoulder, it’s questionable whether Luck can generate enough velocity to get the ball downfield.  And now for three predictions:

  1. In Thursday’s game, look for Luck to throw short passes, hoping for yards after catch from his receivers (like Drew Brees did to CJ Spiller on Sunday night) to move the ball downfield.
  2. The Texans did a great job in making Julio Jones insignificant in week 4.  Look for the Texan defense to heavily cover T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, leaving Phillip Dorsett open for a TD.
  3. Andre Johnson has had a hard time on the Colts.  In week 4, Johnson had 2 targets and no receptions.  His worst performance of the season.  But in case you forgot, Johnson use to play for the Texans and should be able to read the defense better than any other wide receiver on the Colts.  Luck will most likely target Johnson more in week 5, giving him ample opportunity to look good against his former team.  I think he finally finds the endzone.

The Texans: Coach Bill O’Brien announced that Ryan Mallett will remain as starting quarterback, along with the comment that ‘he’ (Mallett) knows he needs to play better.  In week 4, the Texans could have been shut-out if not for the quarterback change to Brian Hoyer.  It’s nice to have faith in your players, but when will enough be enough.

Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett

The quarterback situation isn’t the Texans only problem for week 5.  Cecil Shorts III left in the middle of week 4 game with a dislocated left shoulder and is doubtful to play in week 5.  Nate Washington is also doubtful for week 5 with a hamstring injury.  DeAndre Hopkins will be heavily covered by the Colts defense, leaving Mallett looking to rookie wide receiver Keith Mumphery, 2nd year veteran tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz and sixth year veteran Garrett Graham, probably in that order.  Both running backs Arian Foster and Chris Polk are most likely to play even though they are currently suffering from a groin and knee injuries, respectfully.

It doesn’t look good for the Texans.  Their defense did a great job making Julio Jones insignificant in week 4, not that it mattered since Matt Ryan was able to make anyone a superstar receiver that week.  The defense was also unable to stop the Atlanta Falcon’s run game.  But if the Texans defense can control the Colt’s offensive line and the offense can spark its run game in week 5, victory can be in their grasp.  And now for three predictions:

  1. DeAndre Hopkins will have a TD.  Yes, Hopkins will be covered.  That’s never stopped Mallett, or Hoyer, from throwing to the Texans number one receiver.
  2. The Texans defense will score a TD.  With Luck suffering from injury, his throws will be less accurate.  The Texans will be counting on mistakes made by the Colts to help win the game.
  3. J.J. Watt will play offense.  With limited receivers on the field, the Texans might decide to play J.J. Watt as tight-end.  In 2014, Watt scored 4 receiving TD’s.

What this means?  The Colts have an injured quarterback and the Texans have little in receiving options.  In Vegas there is NL (no line), but the Colts are predicted to win.  That means the Thursday nights divisional game will be won by whichever team makes the least mistakes.

Tennessee Titans (1-2)

Tennessee Titans

Buffalo Bills @ Tennessee Titans

Tyrod Taylor looked like a different animal on week 4’s game against the New York Giants.  It makes you wonder, is Taylor that mediocre or are the Giants just that good?  In week 4, the Bills were unable to get into rhythm, while continuous penalties stifled the Bills and overturned two potential TD’s – one in which Taylor himself rushed for a TD.  It was a disappointing loss for the Bills and they’ll be wanting blood, whether it’s from the Giants or not.

With starting running back LeSean McCoy out again with a hamstring injury and wide receiver Sammy Watkins also doubtful, the Bills face a tough road against Dick LeBeau’s defense.

The Titans had two weeks to prepare against the Bills on their home turf.  But, it’s not going to be easy.  Currently, the Titans are among the better defenses in yards per game allowed, and Rex Ryan knows it.

Marcus Mariota - USA TODAY Sports Photo

Marcus Mariota – USA TODAY Sports Photo

Although Mariota has been solid during the first three weeks into the season, there is still a lot of experience he needs to gain in facing difficult opponents.  The Bills defense will be that challenge in week 5.  The Titans haven’t been able to get a consistent run game going, forcing Mariota to throw, instead of playing a more balanced offense.  He’ll need to make better decisions in the pocket, scramble less in the back field and utilize a quick release to avoid being sacked and win against the Bills defense.

With limited ground games for the Bills and Titans, both quarterbacks will be forced to throw the ball more often, increasing the chances for interceptions and fumbles.  This will be a defense heavy game and the team with the fewest penalties will probably win.

And now for three predictions:

  1. Kendell Wright will have a TD.
  2. The Titans Defense will have 1 TD.
  3. Percy Harvin will have a TD.  With Sammy Watkins out, Taylor will be looking towards tight-end Charles Clay and wide receiver Percy Harvin.  Don’t let last week performance put you off on Harvin.
What this means? Don’t count out the Titans just yet.  The Titans didn’t enter the season looking to lose.

Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3)

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Both teams enter week 5 with a 1-3 record, and both teams are looking for a win.  Unfortunately, only one team will come out victorious in week 5.  Buccaneers rookie quarterback, Jameis Winston, hasn’t had the fast start that he was expecting.  In four weeks, Winston has had 7 interceptions and 2 fumbles.  He has a 54.9% completion rating and 35.6 QBR.

Okay, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles isn’t that much better with a 54.5% completion rating and 57.5 QBR, 3 interceptions and 1 fumble.

Blake Bortles

Blake Bortles

The rest of both offenses have also fared similarly in recent weeks.  In week 4, Jaguars running-back T.J. Yeldon rushed for 105 yards and wide receiver Allen Hurns caught 11 of 15 targets for 116 yards and a TD.  For the Buccaneers, running back Doug Martin rushed 106 yards and wide receiver Vincent Jackson caught 10 of 15 targets for 147 yards and a TD.

Week 4 ended with disappointment for the Jaguars, and nightmares for the rookie kicker Jason Myers.  You can be certain that Myers won’t be missing any field goals or extra points in week 5.  And now for three predictions:

  1. Allen Hurns will continue to excel for the Jaguars.
  2. T.J. Yeldon has another 100+ day and a TD.
  3. Mike Evans will have a TD.

What this means? The defense will make the difference.  Jaguars take home a victory.

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