AFC South: rapid reaction 17

Rapid Reaction: Ravens 27, Jaguars 7

December, 28, 2008
Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

The Jaguars are about 20 points worse than the lowest-seeded team in the AFC playoff field.

In a 27-7 loss in Baltimore Sunday, Jacksonville was unable to come close to playing the role of the spoiler and did not influence the final wild-card slot.

Jacksonville went into the second quarter with a 7-3 lead and went into halftime with a 24-7 deficit.

They gave it away four times as their top offensive people failed to protect the ball -- David Garrard threw two interception and Maurice Jones-Drew, who played hurt, lost a fumble, as did the receiver who led the team in catches, Dennis Northcutt.

The Jaguars didn't threaten with any sort of explosive plays, which has been the case for many Baltimore victims and has been the case for Jacksonville too often in a lost year. Garrard connected on two 23-yard throws and finished with a woeful 5.08 yards per pass attempt.

Let the purging and rebuilding begin.

Rapid Reaction: Texans 31, Bears 24

December, 28, 2008
Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

Sure, it's nice that the Texans were able to get to 8-8 again with their win over the Bears. Matching last season's record means while they didn't get better, they didn't get worse.

But there were things on Sunday about how they won that were more significant than that they won.

One of the league's worst giveaway teams lost the ball just once on a Steve Slaton fumble.

One of the league's worst red zone offenses got touchdowns on three of four trips inside the Bears' 20 and 24 points total.

The Texans were also able to get the ball to their biggest weapon, as Matt Schaub threw to Andre Johnson 10 times for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Against a quality defense, the Texans kept the ball for 37:34 in a game where the Bears had much higher stakes -- they started the game still alive for a playoff berth, and could have earned one with a win, a Tampa Bay loss (which happened) and a Dallas loss.

The Texans will hear a lot this offseason about turnover reduction and red zone production. Their coaches will need only to point to the last game of 2008 to show what a difference improvement in those areas can make in 2009.

Rapid Reaction: Colts 23, Titans 0

December, 28, 2008
Posted by's Paul Kuharsky

INDIANAPOLIS -- Rapid Reaction is supposed to tell you what a game meant.

We knew going in this game was going to mean nothing.

It had no bearing on playoff positioning for the Titans or Colts.

As for carryover, we'll have to wait and see.

The Colts got three key offensive players to significant milestones before sitting them down: Peyton Manning eclipsed 4,000 passing yards for a record ninth time; Marvin Harrison moved into second place in all-time NFL receptions; Dallas Clark set a single-season receiving yardage mark for a Baltimore/Indianapolis tight end.

The Titans didn't have their top defenders on the field for much of that, but even the Colts backups were sharp.

And Tennessee mustered very little on offense, with Vince Young taking over early for Kerry Collins. Young was erratic in the first half, throwing behind receivers on several attempts. While he seemed to settle down after halftime, he rolled out once and was the only person at Lucas Oil Stadium who didn't know defensive lineman Marcus Howard was about to catch him and strip him of the ball.

Chris Simms got a late look, too.

The Colts now watch what amounts to the AFC West Championship Game Sunday night to learn if they'll play next weekend in San Diego or Denver.

The Titans will work on some basics and Jeff Fisher and his staff will likely hit on some points of emphasis in a practice week before a bye.

When they get back to work after that, they'll know if the fourth, fifth, or sixth seed will be coming to Nashville and what time they will be playing on Jan. 10 or 11.