Now that we’ve reached the midway point of the season, each week we’ll take a look at one division and examine the situation, any surprises and look forward to the playoffs.
Pre-Season Prediction: Houston Texans
Mid-Season Prediction: Jacksonville Jaguars
This is a tough one. When a division is tighter, like this one is, I’m always tempted to lean towards the team with the better quarterback. In this case, that’s Marcus Mariota and the Titans, but Jacksonville is probably the best defensive team in the NFL, and they can run the ball on almost anyone. That’s a really good combination. As I mentioned previously, if this team gets a QB, they’re going to be flat-out scary. Even with Blake Bortles and his, ahem, modest (58.4%) completion percentage, the Jags are on a four game win streak and hold a one game lead over the Titans. I just don’t think they’ll relinquish it. These teams will face off in week seventeen, so it might come down to that matchup, but the Titans will have a tougher road in the weeks leading up to that game. They won’t make up any ground. It’s really hard to win in the NFL without good quarterback play, so I’m not sure what the ceiling is for these Jaguars. I see them as the likely three seed, which could lead to a Wildcard Weekend matchup with the Ravens. If that happens, we could be in for one of the most hard-hitting defensive shows in years.
The Texans were my pick to win the division, partially because I thought they would possess one of the tougher defensive units in the NFL, but also because I just didn’t see this Jags team coming. As we know, injuries to the both sides in Houston have marred a potentially great team, with J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and rookie of the year candidate (if he was still on the field) QB DeShaun Watson all being shut down for the rest of the season. Even with the defensive injuries, the Texans were still a dangerous squad with Watson under center. Losing him has rendered the Texans irrelevant, and it’s a shame, because this division would have been one of football’s more exciting battles over the last few weeks of the season if they were still in the hunt.
The Colts are in the basement at 3-7 thus far, so my hot seat pick of Chuck Pagano seems to be in play. Newly acquired QB Jacoby Brissett has had some flashes, but at the end of the day, this team will rise and fall on the still-recovering throwing arm of Andrew Luck. Right now, we’re not sure if we’ll ever see Luck throw another pass. After surgery in January to repair unspecified damage in the shoulder that had built up since the 2015 season, Luck was expected back early in the season, but his return was repeatedly delayed until the formality of the injured reserve designation ended his season. Both Luck and the organization are being hush-hush as to why the recovery timeline keeps changing, but it’s obvious that things are going very, very badly. At least the Colts can look forward some higher draft picks and beef up that defense and offensive line for 2018.
Image source: https://twitter.com/Jaguars
Tom Capo writes about sports, parenting, food, wine and travel; but seldom all at once. He’s currently working on his first novel and collection of shorter fiction. He lives in the Bay Area with all of his girls; wife Allison, daughter Liliana and dog Artemis.