Sports, Thrill of Victory

Surprises in the AFC South after NFL Week 1

Andrew Luck had a great game, but the Indianapolis Colts lost their Week 1 matchup against Detroit. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

After the opening week of the 2016 regular season, the standings in the AFC South are interesting. The Houston Texans lead the division with a 1-0 record, while the Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts and Jacksonville Jaguars are tied for second place with a 0-1 record.

Divisional standings after Week 1 should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt.

Last year, the Titans opened the season with a 42-14 blowout against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The rest of the season did not fare well.

Andrew Luck had a great game, but the Indianapolis Colts lost their Week 1 matchup against Detroit. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Andrew Luck had a great game, but the Indianapolis Colts lost their Week 1 matchup against Detroit. PHOTO COURTESY INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

However, through the first week of play, there are interesting tidbits regarding the Texans, Colts, Jaguars and Titans. Let’s look at each team stepwise.

Houston Texans

The Texans exhibited balanced football in their 23-14 win over the Chicago Bears. In fact, their offense was perfectly balanced, as the team called a pass play for every rush play.

A number of positives can be mentioned on Houston’s behalf: Brock Osweiler managed the game well as he threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns; the defense limited the Bears to less than 300 yards of total offense; and linebacker Whitney Mercilus made two of five team sacks. 

Yet, perhaps the most surprising performance was that of rookie wide receiver Will Fuller.

Fuller finished the game with a touchdown and more than 100 receiving yards. Also, Osweiler targeted the former Notre Dame speedster more often than star wideout DeAndre Hopkins: 11 targets versus eight.

It seems that Osweiler has established an early trust with Fuller. If this trust continues next week when the Texans face the Kansas City Chiefs, fantasy football players may want to take notice.

Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck had a stellar performance against the Detroit Lions (31-of-47, 385 yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions) that fell just four points short of a victory on Sunday. 

It seems that Luck truly has the ability to mask the deficiencies of the Colts offense, namely offensive line — a unit that is starting rookie center Ryan Kelly, that lost guard Hugh Thornton to injury, and that sacrificed 118 quarterback hits last season.

If Luck can remain healthy through 2016, the Colts have a fighting chance in every matchup and, more importantly, a chance to win the AFC South for a playoff birth.

Next week Luck faces the formidable defense of the Denver Broncos.

Jacksonville Jaguars

With less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, a dropped pass from Allen Robinson deflated the Jaguars’ chances of surmounting a come-from-behind win against the Green Bay Packers.

Despite the loss, rookie Jalen Ramsey delivered a performance worth praise. The cornerback gave up zero completions to Aaron Rodgers, and after the game, he let that fact be known.

He didn’t throw my way. Write that,” Ramsey told Eric Adelson of Yahoo! Sports.     

Rodgers is undoubtedly one of the toughest quarterbacks Ramsey will face this entire season. It will be interesting to see if Ramsey performs well next week against Phillip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers.

Marcus Mariota didn't have his best performance in the Titans' Week 1 loss to the Vikings. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Marcus Mariota didn’t have his best performance in the Titans’ Week 1 loss to the Vikings. PHOTO BY MATTHEW MAXEY

Tennessee Titans

The Titans’ nine-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings resulted from two turnovers that were returned for a touchdown.

In the third quarter, Mariota threw an errant pass to Vikings’ linebacker Eric Kendricks. Two possessions later, Mariota and DeMarco Murray miscommunicated on an option-read, resulting in a fumble.

On a strong note, however, the Titans’ front seven limited Adrian Peterson to just 31 rush yards on 19 carries. This unit led by Jurrell Casey, Brian Orakpo and Avery Williamson looks to be a top ten performer in the league this season. 

Also, the Titans’ offensive line, which sacrificed a league-high 3.4 sacks per game last year, allowed just two sacks to the Vikings. Let’s hope that this success continues when the Titans face the Lions on Sunday.