If you had told me the Texans, entering the second half of the season, would be in third place in the AFC South and would have replaced starting quarterback Matt Schaub with the team's previous third-stringer, I would have been shocked. But that's exactly what's happened as Houston's season has imploded (as, perhaps, have the tenures of Schaub and coach Gary Kubiak).
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But Indianapolis, coming off an unexpected appearance in the playoffs last season, is experiencing another fine year, and the Colts have established themselves as a legit AFC title contender. Aside from the Colts, most of the offenses in this division have been disappointing, and it would take a surprising push from Tennessee or Houston in order to keep the Colts from winning their first division championship in three years.
MVP: DE J.J. Watt
Surprise: Whitney Mercilus
Disappointment: QB Matt Schaub
Going forward: Coach Gary Kubiak is on the hot seat. So is quarterback Matt Schaub. And while there are some positives to report from Houston, including the strong play of a number of youngsters, the Texans are going nowhere fast this season. We had high hopes for this group. The fact the Texans are so bad means we'll probably see different team leaders next year.
The first eight weeks in one GIF:
MVP: CB Alterraun Verner
Surprise: WR Kendall Wright
Disappointment: Kenny Britt
Going forward: If Jake Locker had stayed healthy all year and continued to play as well as he had early in the season, this might be a team that would be going for a postseason berth. But he got injured, and the running game with Chris Johnson hasn't been impressive. There are some bright spots on defense, but you have to wonder how much more slack coach Mike Munchak will get.
The first eight weeks in one GIF: (This was a safety on the first play of the season)
MVP: WR Justin Blackmon
Surprise: Just about nobody
Disappointment: Just about everything
Going forward: What can you say about this squad? I mean, it'll be lucky to win a game or two at this rate. I imagine new coach Gus Bradley and new general manager Dave Caldwell have some optimism about the future, but I don't really know how. Justin Blackmon has been good since he got back from his suspension, and Maurice Jones-Drew can still play. But the bright spots on this team are few and far between.
The first eight weeks in one photo: (not even Tebow could help):
MVP: QB Andrew Luck
Surprise: DE Robert Mathis
Disappointment: RB Trent Richardson
Going forward: After beating the Broncos in Week 7, it's easy to see that Indianapolis could be one of the best teams in the AFC. I'm not sure the Colts are there quite yet, because they've had a couple of iffy results (losing to the Dolphins at home, almost losing to the Raiders in Week 1) along the way. But Luck is a star, and Mathis is having a renaissance at the age of 32. This is a team that could make some noise in the postseason.
The first eight weeks in one GIF: (Yeah, the Colts are as nasty as a Pat McAfee hit):
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