AFC South Roundup: Week 6

I’m considering changing the name of this weekly feature from “AFC South Roundup” to “What are the Colts up to?” in light of the current division standings.

The AFC South divisional odds tracker at Sports Betting Dime currently has the Titans installed as a -290 favorite to win the AFC South for the first time since 2008. The Colts check-in at +203 with the Texans (+4100) and Jaguars (+19750) entering the realm of extreme longshots.

So let’s start with those Colts again, before quickly checking in on the Texans and Jaguars.

Indianapolis Colts (4-2)

Week 6 Result: 31-27 win over the Bengals

This was on track to be the upset of the day for most of the first quarter as Cincinnati raced out to a 21-0 lead before the Colts ran their 9th offensive play of the game.

However, as bad as things looked for Indy in the opening quarter, they bounced back in a big way in the second, rattling off 21 points of their own and accumulating 249 yards of total offense during the period to enter halftime down just 24-21. The second half saw the game settle down and ultimately end in a 31-27 win for the Colts.

The vaunted Indy defense did not look like themselves for a second straight week playing without star linebacker Darius Leonard. The Bengals 27th-ranked offense (via DVOA) cruised up and down the field early on, scoring touchdowns on their first three drives. However, they were great in defending the Cincy running game, holding Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard to a combined 2.65 yards per carry.

On offense, the Colts started cold and finished lukewarm, but were red hot in the second and third quarters, scoring four touchdowns on five drives in the middle of the game. Philip Rivers played his best game of the season, racking up 371 yards and 3 touchdowns despite being without two of his top three receivers on the roster.

Marcus Johnson, who was elevated from the practice squad before the game, and had been a free agent less than a month ago, led the Colts with 5 catches for 108 yards, but Rivers really spread it around. He completed at least three passes to seven different receivers and none of them were names T.Y. Hilton (who finished with just 1 catch for 11 yards).

The key sequence in the game came in the fourth quarter, when a Philip Rivers interception was followed by a Bengals drive to the Colts 30-yard line with Indy in front 28-27 and just over eight minutes left on the clock. A 3rd and 1 run from backup running back Samaje Perine gets stuffed and Bengals coach Zac Taylor makes the cowardly decision to try a field goal on 4th and 1. The kick misses and the Colts drive the other way for a field goal of their own that makes it 31-27.

Still, Joe Burrow took Cincy back down into Colts territory, but an ill-advised throw over the middle was picked off by Indy’s fantastic rookie safety, Julian Blackmon, with 46 seconds remaining.

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Comments

  1. Great review of the AFC South. Thanks again.

    I think the 1.5 home-dog line shows more respect for the value of an elite defense and the historical stability of Pittsburgh’s franchise than a lack of belief in the Titans. Essentially, they are saying this will be an incredible game that is likely decided by a a safety or 2 point conversion as by a single point as it all shakes out.

    I can’t wait to watch! Win or lose, I expect this game to be an epic bout and an excellent measurement for our lingering growth areas.

    How exciting it will be if Vrabel and his staff bring another game plan of similar caliber as the one we pulled off against Baltimore last January! Titan up!!

    1. From CBS Sports:

      The problem for the Steelers is that they haven’t faced an offense as good as Tennessee’s. As a matter of fact, you could argue the Steelers haven’t really faced a good offense all season. Three of their five wins have come against three of the worst offenses in the NFL (The Giants, Broncos, and Eagles all rank in the bottom six for total yards). 

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