AFC South 2017 Week 4 Preview & Predictions

By Joanne Kong

Twitter: @kongfu4u  AFC South Week 4

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-1)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New York Jets (1-2)

It was a crazy week for football, and it began with the first international game of the season.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a dream-like game as they returned to London for the fifth year in a row to face the Baltimore Ravens.  The Ravens flew over the pond as the number one defense in the league, but left shaking their heads, wondering where everything went so wrong.  Maybe it was when the Jaguars were up 23-0 into the half.  Maybe it was the Jaguars defense holding the Ravens to under 50 total yards in the first half.  It was a dream-like Jaguars team and a nightmare for the Ravens.  I’ll say it because I know we’re all thinking it — the Jaguars should play in London every week.

In the first half, Joe Flacco connected on only 4 of 12 attempts, with just 8 yards passing and an interception.  The Ravens were unable to get their offense or defense going.  And they have a week to consider what went wrong.

As for the Jaguars, in week 4, they travel north to New York to face the New York Jets.

What can we expect in week 4?

  • Will the real Jacksonville Jaguars Please Stand -Up?

In all honesty, the Jaguars offense is not that good.  I know it.  You know it.  And the NFL gods know it.  But on Sunday, the Jaguars looked that good.  Blake Bortles completed 20 of 31 pass attempts totaling 244 passing yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.  The offense also had 166 rush yards and a rushing touchdown, winning 44-7.

This Jaguars team was a far cry from the one that was trounced in week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, where Bortles had 223 passing yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions.

Although London seemed to be the key to the Jaguars success, they’re hoping to carry it through to week 4, and don’t be surprised if they do.  After week 3, the Jaguars defense ranked 3rd in the league, allowing an average of 259.7 yards per game.  In the pass game, the defense is ranked 1st, allowing an average of of just 124.3 yards per game, and lead the lead in sacks with 13.  However, in defending the run, they are among the worst, ranking 28th in the league and allowing an average of 135.3 yards per game.

The bottom line is Bortles might not throw 4 touchdowns in another game this season, but the Jaguars secondary has proven to be the real deal.  And against a limited offensive team, like the Jets, the Jaguars are looking for a win on the road.

  • The New York Jets.

The New York Jets shouldn’t be counted out just yet.  The Jets had their first win of the season against the Miami Dolphins in week 3, 20-6.  Surprised?  As surprised as when the Jaguars humiliated the Ravens?  There were two keys to this victory against the Dolphins.

Time of possession. The Jets possessed the ball 12:56 minutes longer, giving the Dolphins less time to score.  Jets quarterback, Josh McCown, was just good enough completing 18 of 23 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown with an interception.  Yeah, it wasn’t that McCown was that good, it was that the Dolphins defense was just mediocre and offensively, quarterback Jay Cutler was just that bad.  It was the Cutler we all knew while with the Chicago Bears — unreliable and inconsistent.

The run game.  The importance of having a solid run game is becoming more evident as the seasons goes on.  The Jets had 103 rush yards and a touchdown, while the Jets defense held the Dolphins to only 30 rush yards on 15 carries, with Jay Ajayi only having 16 yards on 11 carries.

As well as the Jets did against the Dolphins, the Jets defense is ranked 27th against the run, allowing an average of 133.3 yards per game and 13th defending the pass, allowing an average of 214.3 yards per game.

Stopping the run game will be crucial against the Jaguars.  If the Jets defense can limit Leonard Fournette, and force Bortles to go to the air, the Jets could keep this game close.  The Jets had 3 interceptions this season.  Pressure on Bortles could result in some critical turnovers.

In the end, the Jaguars have a better defense and offense…

The Jacksonville Jaguars win.

TENNESSEE TITANS (2-1) & HOUSTON TEXANS (1-2)

Tennessee Titans @ Houston Texans

The Houston Texans technically didn’t win week 3 against the New England Patriots, but it was far from a loss.  With the Texans scoring 33 points, which included 2 passing touchdowns, a fumble recovery by Jadevone Clowney for a defensive touchdown, 4 field goals and 3 extra points, they hung tough with one of the best offensive teams in the league and only lost by 3 points, and that only from last minute Tom Brady heroics.

The Tennessee Titans had no trouble with the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3, even with Russell Wilson have the best game of his career, winning 33-27.

In week 4, one of these two AFC South division rivals will end up on top.

What can we expect in week 4?

  • The Tennessee Titans Offense vs. The Houston Texans Defense.

In the first three weeks of the season, Marcus Mariota has passed for 696 yards, 3 touchdowns, 77 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown.  Offensively, the Tennessee Titans average 28.7 points, 230.3 passing yards and 156.3 rushing yards.

The Seattle Seahawks had the 10th best defense before week 3, but that didn’t stop the Titans.

In week 3, the Titans had 195 rush yards in 35 plays.  DeMarco Murray had his best game this season with 115 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Derrick Henry had 54 rushing yards.

For the Texans, stopping the Titans run game will be key to Sunday’s match-up.

In the receiving end, Rishard Matthews had his best game of the season with 87 yards and a touchdown.  Eric Decker added 49 yards and Delanie Walker had 31 yards.

The Titans offense looks to be coming together, but will it be enough against the Texans defense?  According to Football Outsiders, the Texans overall defense is currently ranked 13th in the league, and 19th against the pass and 7th against the run, allowing an average of 225 passing yards and 98.7 rushing yards.

  • The Houston Texans Offense vs. The Tennessee Titans Defense.

The Texans might have found their offensive stride on Sunday against the Patriots, but whether they can carry that over to week 4 against the Titans is a question.

In week 3, rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson had his best game so far with 301 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  Watson even contributed 41 yards to the Texans 125 total rush yards.  DeAndre Hopkins had 76 receiving yards, Ryan Griffin had 61 yards and a touchdown and Bruce Ellington had 59 yards and a touchdown.

DeAndre Hopkins

Not to rain on the Texans offense, but the Patriots defense are currently ranked the worst in the league.  They are ranked 20th against wide receiver 1, 23rd against wide receiver 2, 28th against other wide receivers, 23rd against tight ends and 28th against the running back receptions.

The Titans currently have the 23rd ranked defense in the league.  On average, they’ve allowed 275 passing yards and 92.3 rushing yards.  The Titans defense are 6th against wide receiver 1, 29th against wide receiver 2, 22nd against tight ends and 26th against the running back receptions.

You can be certain that Hopkins will be heavily covered, leaving secondary receivers and Griffin opportunity to move the ball downfield.  And with Will Fuller looking ready to return, Watson should have even more options at his disposal.

  • Protect the Quarterback.

Protecting Watson against the Titans defense will be key for the Texans success on Sunday.  Watson is the most sacked quarterback in the league (15) and has thrown 3 interceptions this season.

Mariota has been sacked twice and has thrown only one interception.

While the Texans defense has recorded 8 sacks, no interceptions, 6 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.  The Titans defense has totaled 5 sacks, 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles.

Expect the Titans defense to get their first defensive touchdown.

  • The History.

The Texans and the Titans have faced-off in 30 games with the Titans leading the match-up 16 to 14.  While the Titans won their last meeting on January 2017 (24 -17) the Texans have won the previous six games in a row.

The offense of both teams will be the key to winning on Sunday.  In the end…

The Tennessee Titans win.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (1-2)

Indianapolis Colts @ Seattle Seahawks

The Indianapolis Colts can win without Andrew Luck.  Of course, it was against the 0-2 Cleveland Browns, now 0-3.  And the Browns did score 28 points.

Regardless, Jacoby Brissett completed 17 of 24 passes for 259 yards, a passing touchdown, 14 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns.  And that’s with the Colts offense going ground heavy with 36 rushing attempts for 92 yards and 3 touchdowns compared to just 24 pass attempts.

In week 4, the Colts will travel to Seattle and Brissett will surely test his legs once again in an attempt make it two in a row.

What can we expect in week 4?

  • The Indianapolis Colts.

Don’t let Brissett’s two rushing touchdowns in week 3 fool you, as the run game generally wasn’t that effective.  It was Brissett’s ability to find open opportunities and react quickly with his legs to collapsing plays that allowed the Colts to muscle past the Browns.

Jacoby Brissett

Unfortunately, the Colts will be facing a better offense and defense in Seattle.  The Seahawks have been solid against the pass allowing only an average of 200 passing yards per game and have effectively employed a bend-don’t-break run defense allowing 146 rush yards per game (currently 30th in the league), but only 2 rushing touchdowns total this season.

Brissett has only one passing touchdown this season, which was to T.Y. Hilton against the Browns.  Week 3 was also Hilton’s first touchdown of the season and his first game of the season with over a hundred receiving yards (153).  While the Browns rank 31st against wide receiver 1, Seattle is ranked 20th against wide receiver 1, 9th against other wide receivers and 8th against tight ends.

Don’t be surprised if Colts have a difficult time against the Seattle secondary – Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and Jeremy Lane.

Exploiting Seattle’s run defense to get the ball downfield might just turn the tables on this game.  If the Colts can get the run game going with Frank Gore, it might be key to a win.

  • The Seattle Seahawks.

In week 3, Russell Wilson had the best game of the season against the Tennessee Titans.  Wilson had 373 passing yards, 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.  He might find more success week 4 against the Colts.

Russell Wilson

The Colts have allowed an average of only 85.7 rushing yards, but 283.7 passing yards.  The Colts are ranked 7th against wide receiver 1, 19th against other wide receivers and 26th against tight ends.

Assuming he’s healthy, Doug Baldwin should be heavily covered, leaving Tyler Lockett with more targets on Sunday.  Although not a hundred percent, tight end Jimmy Graham is expected to play against the Colts on Sunday.  In week 3, Graham was also suffering from an ankle injury, but managed 7 of 11 receptions and 72 receiving yards.   And of course, this…

Also finding success was tight end Luke Wilson, who had 3 of 4 receptions for 53 receiving yards.

The Colts defense has a lot of weaknesses, but especially fall short in defending tight ends.  Expect the Seattle tight ends to have a successful week.

The Seattle Seahawks win.

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