Andrew Luck and the Colts will win the AFC South
While the Jacksonville Jaguars are the easiest team to talk about in a pretty forgettable AFC South division, the Indianapolis Colts are a team that you should keep an eye on as we enter the second half of the season. Now, I realize it’s crazy to say that a 3-5 team is one to keep an eye on, but the AFC South is up for grabs now that the Jaguars have fallen apart, and a healthy Andrew Luck could be all the Colts need to make the playoffs.
After missing all of last season with a shoulder injury, there were questions surrounding Luck’s health up until Week 1 of this season. But at the halfway point of the season, it’s pretty safe to say that these questions have been answered: Andrew Luck is back. Through the first 8 games, Luck has thrown for 2187 yards (10th in NFL) and 23 touchdowns (2nd in NFL). Sure it’s still early, but Luck is on pace to put up some career-best numbers and yet nobody is talking about the Colts in a wide-open division. The Texans have won 5 straight and sit in first place at 5-3, and the Jaguars are 3-5 in fourth. However, you can argue that after the trade deadline the Texans got better and the Jaguars got worse.
The Colts offense is actually one of the best in the NFL, and currently rank 6th in points per game at 28.9. The issue for them has been their defense, giving up the 7th most points per game at 26.6. Despite a defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed, the Colts have been in a position to win in most of their games this year. Their biggest loss was by 14 against the Patriots, but even that game was close until the end. If a 4 point loss to the Eagles, and 3 point overtime loss to the Texans went a bit differently, I’m sure this team would be getting a lot more attention. After a 37-5 win against the Bills and a 42-28 win against the Raiders, the Colts are hot heading into a divisional matchup against the struggling Jaguars.
I’ll call it right now, the Indianapolis Colts will be the AFC South Champions this year.
Some more big, yet unsurprising news out of the AFC this week is that the Cleveland Browns have fired Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.
Most head coaches don’t get the kind of leeway that Hue Jackson has had with the Cleveland Browns, but most coaches also aren’t stuck trying to coach the Cleveland Browns. Jackson’s time in the Dawg Pound got off to a rough start, finishing his first season with a 1-15 record. His second year ended even worse, 0-16. But there was a sense of optimism with the Browns this year. Not to make the playoffs, and not even to be good, but just that this would be the year they finally don’t completely suck.
And to be fair, after a pretty brutal first impression on Hard Knocks, the Browns are actually having a pretty good year by Cleveland standards. A 2-5-1 record isn’t great, but that’s twice as many wins as the Browns have had the last two seasons, and we’re only at the halfway point of this season. The next step in Cleveland will be finding a head coach that can get the most out of Baker Mayfield, and hopefully surrounding him with more talent than the Cleveland Browns have been known for lately.
On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, two of the NFL’s best faced off against each other on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. The Rams and Packers have had two very different seasons so far. The Rams have been a juggernaut on both sides of the ball, while the Packers have struggled, but Aaron Rodgers has done just about everything possible to make this team win. After starting off the season strong, the Rams have shown some signs of weakness over the past couple weeks, and Week 8 was more of the same. The Packers took the lead early and held a 10-8 lead at halftime. It was looking like Green Bay had a pretty good chance to hand the Rams their first loss of the season.
But Todd Gurley had other ideas. He finished the game as the leading rusher with 114 yards, but also as the Rams leading receiver with 81 yards and a touchdown. Despite Gurley reminding everyone that he is the MVP of this league, the Packers were just two points down with a little over two minutes left in the game. You’d have to think that with Aaron Rodgers in the game, that the Packers would be a lock to march down the field and win on a late field goal or even touchdown. Unfortunately, the Packers and their fans will have to wonder “what if?” after Ty Montgomery’s kickoff return ruined any chance that Green Bay had at a comeback.
The Rams recovered the fumble and were able to run out the rest of the clock to hold on for a win, and that play ended up being Montgomery’s last in a Packers uniform after he was traded to Baltimore almost right after. With the result, the Packers fell to 3-3-1, while the Rams improved to 8-0.
In case you missed it, check out the Week 7 recap here.