Sunday NFL football action in the AFC South might actually have playoff implications, at least for a wildcard spot. Then again, it’s not like the top two teams in the division–Houston and Indianapolis–are running away with things. The Texans are 7-4 and one game up on the Colts who are 6-5. The Jags and Titans both have a game in hand and Tennessee can improve to 6-5 with a win here putting them in a tie for second place with Indy who lost to Houston on Thursday night. The Jags would have a little more work to do but a win would put them at 5-6 and at least within ‘striking distance’.
The Jaguars briefly had some momentum in late October with wins at Cincinnati and at home over the Jets. They’ve since lost to Houston 26-3 in a game played at London’s Wembley Stadium and two weeks later were bludgeoned by the Colts in Indianapolis. The schedule does get easier for Jacksonville going forward–they’ll play Tampa Bay and the LA Chargers at home in their next two games followed by road games at Oakland and Atlanta. They could use a few wins as they’ve now lost 4 of 6 both SU and ATS. A bigger issue could be the decline of their defense which has been more ‘sizzle’ and less ‘steak’ this year. The Jaguars rank #17 in yards against per game, #29 in rushing yards against per game and #16 in scoring defense allowing 22.2 PPG. Last year, they were top five in both scoring defense and total defense.
Jacksonville has Nick Foles back under center meaning that for the time being at least the Gardner Minshew circus has come to an end. Foles wasn’t bad against Indianapolis last week despite a 33-13 loss–he went 33 of 47 for 296 yards. That isn’t going to get it done when the rushing ‘attack’ puts up only 29 yards on 9 carries. The Jags rushing defense allowed two Indianapolis running backs to put up 100 yards (Marlon Mack and Jonathan Williams) as they allowed a total of 264 yards on the ground. It was the first time since 1985 that the Colts had two 100+ yards rushers in the same game. They’ll face an even better running back this week in the form of Derrick Henry. The consensus is that head coach Doug Marrone is now on the ‘hot seat’ though a few wins against a favorable schedule could spare him.
The Titans are on a 15-6 SU run in Smashville going 11-8-2 against the spread. Tennessee has also dominated head to head play over the last few years and enter on a 5-1 SU/ATS run that includes 3 straight wins/covers at home. Just a lot more upside with the home team who should have a big day offensively against Jacksonville’s injured defensive front. Titans offense has improved under Ryan Tannehill and they’ve now gone ‘Over’ in 4 straight. Jags ‘Over’ in 3 of their road games this year with 1 UN and 1 push.