Irish NFL Show reporter Kiefer O'Boyle looks back on an eventful final weekend for the AFC South teams.
Jacksonville Jaguars (3-14) 26-11 Indianapolis Colts (9-8)
This is without doubt the shock of the week not only because the Jags won a game but the playoff ramifications that rippled throughout the league last Sunday. From the first drive, which happened to be the most impressive of the Jaguar’s nightmarish season, it was clear that Jacksonville was not going to lie down. The Colts on the other hand made the mistake of allowing the upstart to have an encouraging start. Ideally in this position, the Colts force an early 3 and out, score themselves and the entire Jags roster can begin to look ahead 24 hours to cocktails and a flight to the Caribbean.
This is probably one of the worst losses in Colts franchise history and every player and staff member will be tainted by it. That’s not to say that the baby should be thrown out with the bath water. The spotlight of shame will obviously shine brightest on Carson Wentz, whose interceptions were the standout moments of yet another flatlining Indy offence. Wentz has played well this season- not fantastic- just well. His turnovers have been limited- this was his first turnover on the road- and he has made plays. However, in my humble opinion the blame really should turn to coach Frank Reich and Chris Ballard the GM. Reich said postgame that the offence had been stuttering in the second half of the season particularly in the passing game. They have one of the brightest young running backs in the league but when it came down to it, the Colt’s offensive line, as evident on Sunday, is not up to scratch. That’s on Ballard. The burden of making plays, despite having Taylor, falls onto Wentz as Reich seems reluctant to give the RB a heavy load. Reich will have to reflect on this in the offseason, as will the Colts as an organisation.
The Jaguars, despite their win, secured the number 1 spot in this year’s draft. They are an organisation which is surely running out of opportunities to get their decisions right. Yet again, they finish a season directionless, with a high draft pick and an uncertain future at the coaching position. These are the decisions they need to nail or else another year in the doldrums seems inevitable.
Tennessee Titans (12-5) 28-25 Houston Texans (4-13)
The Titans clinch that vital playoff bye and the road to the Super Bowl for the AFC will have to go through the music city. This game was much tighter than the Titans would have preferred, however unlike their division rival Colts, they were able to weather the storm of an inferior opponent and their QB Ryan Tannehill made the crucial play to avoid a sack on a 3rd and 5 and turn it into a huge gain downfield. This is where the Titans are legitimate and why they deserve to be the 1 seed. There will definitely be fans in Kansas City and Buffalo who see the Titans as lightweight, but they have shown time and time again their ability to win games in unfashionable ways.
A week off will also crucially allow Derrick henry to continue his return to fitness. His return would transform the Titans in offence but also give them the confidence to believe they can win the AFC and potentially a Super Bowl.
As for the Texans, Davis Mills, as he has shown a few times already is talented. He has the ability to make plays and is one of the few bright spots from this season. Coach David Culley, who overachieved all season with this team and was essentially set up to fail, has already been sacked. Mismanaged franchises like the Texans and Jaguars continue to make mistakes having not learned from their previous mistakes. Like the Jaguars, this coaching hire is vital.
Thank you Kiefer for your assistance this season for INFL!