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Friday, November 6, 2009
Final Word: AFC South

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com


NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Posted by ESPN.com’s Paul Kuharsky

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 9:

 
 Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
 Looking to rebound from last week's blowout loss, the Jaguars may lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Texans may not go three-wide: It’s easy to presume that Houston will go three-wide in Indianapolis to try to get an extra receiver on the field to make up for the loss of Owen Daniels and to go after nickelback Tim Jennings. But don’t be surprised if the Texans try to attack with their base personnel instead, putting a premium on pass protection and helping Duane Brown and Eric Winston against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

Jet lag is an issue: Think what you like about the issues of crossing multiple time zones, but Jeff Fisher’s Titans stink at it. In their last 10 West Coast games, they are just 1-9. Fisher blames most of it on the quality of the opponents they’ve traveled to meet. The 49ers are good, but the Texans and Colts just beat them. Have the Titans come far enough that they can win a second straight game and a game near the Pacific?

Are the Jaguars rubber? Jacksonville lost badly to Arizona and bounced back to beat Houston. The Jaguars got crushed at Seattle and bounced back to beat St. Louis. Now Jack Del Rio’s team is coming off an ugly loss in Tennessee. Can it rebound yet again, handle Kansas City and get to 4-4 halfway through its season? To do so, it’ll need to rush the passer better, but the Chiefs' line may help make that an easier order.

A test of Caldwell’s steadiness: When Jim Caldwell took over for Tony Dungy, I thought there would come a time when his team faced a crisis that would qualify as a big test, and his players would be looking to him to see how he reacted. Is this that time? The Colts endured a rough week, losing three starters -- Tyjuan Hagler, Marlin Jackson and Bob Sanders -- to injuries. Other injury news about Kelvin Hayden and Anthony Gonzalez wasn’t good either. Does this qualify as a crisis for Caldwell and the Colts?

MJD, MJD and more MJD: Teams trying to get back on track generally go back to basics, and nothing is more basic for the Jaguars than getting the ball to Maurice Jones-Drew. Last week, despite the 177 yards of rushing damage he did on eight carries, he only got eight carries. This week Del Rio talked about not changing out of run plays at the line even against what may appear to be unfavorable defenses. Kansas City’s had a much worse season than the Jaguars and you’d think Jacksonville would be able to assert itself.