Overview. The AFC South certainly looks to be as good as last year, but it’s not the Colts who are dominating this year it’s the Titans. The Titans have an unblemished 7-0 record. The Colts are four games back and need to make up a lot of ground with only a few weeks remaining. The AFC South as a division is 16-12 and has scored 645 points with 585 point scored against them. Surprisingly, the team in last place (Texans) has scored the most points in the AFC South. However, the Texans defense has given up the most point leading to their poor record. Conversely, the Titans are averaging 12 points a game by their defensive unit.
The AFC West is under performing as compared to this time a year ago. The division’s record is 10-19 scoring a total of 603 point and giving up 764 points. By comparison the Chief who are currently in last place are only three games back of the Broncos, which is the a better position than the Colts. So it’s anybody’s division to win or loss at this point.
Top Performers. Though Week 8 the two divisions have some high flyers. The Chargers (3) and the Texans (10) lead their respective divisions with total number of points scored in the NFL. The Broncos (2) and Texans (4) are in the top 10 for yards per game. The Broncos, Chargers, Colts and Texans are in the top 10 for passing yards per game. The Titan (3) and Raiders (7) are among the NFL in rushing yards per game. Philip Rivers leads the NFL with an impressive QB rating of 107.8. Matt Schaub and Jay Cutler are also in the top 10. Rivers (3rd - 2,038 yards), Cutler (4th - 1,862 Yards), and Manning (9th - 1,740) are in the top 10 for total yards passing. Rivers leads the NFL with 19 TDs, followed by Cutler (6th) totaling 13, then Manning and Schaub with 10. Chris Johnson ranks 4th in rushing with 626 yards rushing followed by LaDainian Tomlinson who ranks 8th in the NFL with 551 yards rushing. LenDale White leads the NFL with 10 rushing TD this season. Andre Johnson leads the NFL with 772 yards receiving. Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson are in the NFL’s top 10 as well. Kevin Walter and Chris Chambers each have 5 TD and are in the NFL’s top 10. The TE position is filled with quality players. All four TE in the AFC West are ranked in the NFL’s top 10 for total yardage along with the Texans and Titans. Antonio Gates leads the group with 5 TD and 403 yards followed by Tony Gonzalez who has 3 TD and 369 yards on the year. The Bronco Tight End tandem of Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler have combined for 4 TD and 479 total yards. Dallas Clark is in the top 10 for receiving yards and has 2 TD on the season.
Top to Bottom Analysis. The AFC South certainly has the upper hand over the AFC West through Week 8. Defensively the AFC South yields fewer points, and have out scored the AFC West. The AFC South has run the ball better as referenced by the dynamic duo of Johnson and White. The AFC West has two of the NFL’s leading passers with Rivers and Cutler while the AFC South’s Schaub and Johnson have been among the elite this year as well. It’s no secret that playing from behind favors the passing game while playing from the lead favors the rushing game. Top to bottom the AFC South has a better record and their last place teams would be second if they played in the AFC West. Injuries have played a big part in both the AFC South and West’s performances. Payton Manning got off to a slow start recovering from off season knee surgery. Also, Joseph Addai has been out much of the season putting more pressure on the Colts. The Broncos have been hit by the injury bug on both sides of the ball losing Boss Bailey, Champ Bailey, Tony Scheffler, Brandon Stokley, and Selvin Young. The Titan lost Vince Young early in the season, but have maintained with Kerry Collins at the helm. The Chiefs have been disseminated at QB, working with the third string QB now and without the service of Larry Johnson for past two games, maybe more. The Chargers started the regular season banged up but seem to be on the mend offensively. Defensively, the Chargers took a big hit when Shawne Merriman went out.
Outlook. Barring injuries look for the Titan to keep a lock on the AFC South, while the reaming teams fight for a Wild Card spot. Look for this division to mix it up going into the last half of the year. In the AFC West it’s any ones division right now and too early to make projections. However, my guess is that the Wild Card will not be coming from the AFC West this year.
Pts/G Passing Rushing
Broncos 24.7 (12th) 263 (3rd) 118 (13th)
Chargers 28.0 (3rd) 264 (7th) 97 (27th)
Raiders 15.3 (30th) 161 (29th) 129 (7th)
Chiefs 14.1 (31st) 163 (28th) 103 (20th)
Titans 24.8 (11th) 160 (30th) 154 (3rd)
Colts 21.3 (20th) 244 (9th) 70 (32nd)
Jaguars 20.1 (25th) 201 (20th) 116 (14th)
Texans 25.0 (10th) 253 (5th) 118 (11th)
Source NFL.com 10/27/08. Note some data from the MNF was not available at the time of this post and rankings are subject to change.
What do all these stats mean? Some times they can tell a story and some times they don’t. Statistically, the Raiders and Chiefs are nearly dead last and their record reflects the story. The Texans are statically better than anyone in their division but are in last place.