Friday, December 31, 2010
Final Word: AFC South
By Paul Kuharsky
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:
Arian Foster is the NFL's leading rusher heading into Week 17.
Will Arian Foster win the rushing title? He’s got as 56-yard lead on Jamaal Charles heading into Sunday, and Gary Kubiak has said it’s important for the team to keep Foster on top. But Kubiak hasn't always done well at getting Foster sufficient carries, and the Jaguars are capable of stopping a back. Foster only got 15 carries for 56 yards in the first game against Jacksonville, which the Jaguars won with a Hail Mary.
How do the run games unfold for the Colts and Titans? The Colts have been great the last two weeks at stopping the run and at getting their running backs going. The Titans will surely try to get Chris Johnson the ball, and a lightning fast back against Indianapolis’ speedy defense will be interesting. If the Titans have any pride at the end, they won’t want to give up yards to Joseph Addai, Donald Brown or Dominic Rhodes. In a game pitting pride against a playoff berth, the advantage is with the Colts, the better team with more at stake.
Can the Jaguars score?Trent Edwards is a major question mark, but he couldn’t have drawn a better matchup than the Texans’ pass defense. It will be difficult for Edwards to match David Garrard's red zone work. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the injured starter has 16 touchdowns and zero interceptions inside the 20 this season with the fourth-best passer rating, 113.8, in the NFL. Garrard and Maurice Jones-Drew, who is out, have combined for seven of Jacksonville’s eight rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go situations.
Can Indianapolis sort out its linebackers?Clint Session is expected to be active after missing the past eight games. The Colts have settled in with Gary Brackett flanked by rookies Pat Angerer and Kavell Conner, with Tyjuan Hagler mixed into to the nickel. How will they mix in Session against the Titans as he returns from a serious elbow injury? And if the Colts win the AFC South with a win or a Jaguars loss, do they gain a handle on what to do at linebacker in a playoff game?
Is this anyone’s swan song? Three of the four coaches in the division will head into the offseason as question marks, though things should be resolved quickly. Kubiak, Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio may all survive, and I don’t believe even a terrible result Sunday will have a big bearing on their futures. But in the day or two to follow, each will have an important meeting with his team's owner.