AFC South: Final Word 010110

Final Word: AFC South

January, 1, 2010
1/01/10
3:01
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 17:

[+] EnlargeAndre Johnson
Doug Benc/Getty ImagesTexans receiver Andre Johnson has over 1,500 yards this season thanks to seven 100-yard-plus games.
Andre Johnson and Wes Welker are two very different receivers with something big in common -- fantastic production. Last year, Johnson’s seven games with at least 10 catches and at least 100 yards set a record for such games in a season since 1960. Welker has six such games this season and can pull even Sunday at Reliant Stadium. Remarkably, the Texans’ pass defense will be trying to help Welker set another record. He’s caught 83 straight passes without a touchdown. The record is 92, set by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Keyshawn Johnson in 2001.

I expect Peyton Manning will be pulled in the second quarter, halftime at the latest in Buffalo. History shows it might be in the Colts’ best interest to have Manning play the full game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. (Not happening.) Since their run of 12-win seasons began in 2003, the two times Manning has played the full game in the regular-season finale, the Colts have won at least one playoff game, and their Super Bowl. The other four times, they lost in the divisional round of the postseason.

Maurice Jones-Drew already owns the Jaguars single-season record for rushing touchdowns. He will have a chance to add to that total against a Browns defense that has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns this season. Jacksonville is 5-0 at Cleveland. The playoffs are a long shot, but MJD did well to take over as a feature back this season. If Jacksonville wins, it finishes 8-8 and that would surpass preseason expectations.

The Titans will play their first game at Qwest Field. They’ve not been good on the West Coast under Jeff Fisher, though they won at San Francisco earlier this season and are going for their 10th consecutive win against an NFC opponent. Chris Johnson's pursuit of several statistical milestone is the obvious focus. Here’s an interesting angle to debate: Say the Titans have the game in hand, but Seattle has the ball late. Should Fisher consider softening up on defense, to increase the chances his offense gets the ball back to enhance Johnson's record chase? I don’t think he would.

Some notable guys who’ve been long-term presences, influential players or both could be playing their last game for their teams Sunday. Another round of a contract disputes with Dunta Robinson could prompt the Texans not to tag him and allow him unrestricted free agency. Brad Meester has served the Jaguars well for nine seasons, but it’s probably time to go younger at center in Jacksonville. Jevon Kearse’s second go-round with the Titans was pretty non-descript, but he’s a popular personality.

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