NFL Week Five Runaround: AFC Southern Hospitality

Kevan LeeSenior Analyst IOctober 8, 2007

IconOne of the most annoying NFL topics of the previous week, as far as I was concerned, was the notion that the AFC South was the best division in football. 

I just wasn't convinced—after all, the Texans were coming off a loss to the Falcons, and the Jags and Titans were on byes.

Now, though, I see what everyone was talking about.

After a perfect week, all the talk seems well justified.

The Colts, long the class of the division, made one of the NFC's hottest teams look downright feeble.  The Jaguars crushed a Chiefs team that had crushed the Chargers the week before.  The Titans overcame five turnovers to eke out a victory over Atlanta.  And the Texans beat the very beatable Dolphins.

Going 4-0 as a division is quite a statement in today’s NFL.  The AFC South can boast four legitimate playoff contenders, while most other divisions can only brag about one or none (AFC West!).

Indianapolis, at 5-0, is still the best team in the division.  But whereas the Patriots have a four-game lead on the rest of the East, the Colts are only 1.5 games up on their competition.

Tennessee’s sole loss came to the Colts, and they've played like one of the AFC’s best teams since late last year.

Jacksonville, which lost its only contest to the Titans in Week One, has won three straight in dominating fashion.

And the Texans, the perennial cellar-dwellers, have shown many positive signs in getting off to the best start in franchise history.

Ironically, they're still in the cellar.

Along with talent, the division’s strong start is also a product of scheduling.  Peyton and Co. drew the NFC South this year, one of the worst divisions in football.  So far, they've each taken turns beating up on the Falcons, Saints, Panthers, and Bucs.

After five weeks, the AFC Southerners have left little doubt as to where the best teams in football reside. 

Team of the week:  Steelers

Apparently the motivation of being called out on Bleacher Report was enough to overcome the absences of Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Troy Polamalu, and Casey Hampton.

My bad.

I was the one who projected a Seahawks win, and I was wrong.  It’s something I’m getting used to.

Big Ben was good, the running game was strong, and the defense was a terror.  In a matchup of AFC and NFC powerhouses, Pittsburgh showed just how big a gap there is between the conferences.

Bad team of the week:  New York Jets

I wanted to proclaim them bad last week after a loss to the Bills.  They made things much easier for me this week.

The loss to the Giants, in which they blew two 10-point leads, was a good example of the Jets' ineptitude.  The offense was turnover-prone, and the defense was vulnerable.

A good special teams play almost saved them—but in the end, all it did was turn an ugly loss into a less ugly one.

Kevan Lee’s beverage of the week:
  Minute Maid orange juice

As far as morning beverages go, the options are rather limited. 

I could choke down coffee and take a couple years off my life.  I could drink apple juice and gain five pounds.  Or I could opt for orange juice and cure my as-yet-undiagnosed heart disease.

The choice is really quite simple for me—especially when we’re out of chocolate milk.

Nap of the week:  The first hour of NFL Primetime

Chris Berman’s voice does that to me.

Most misleading stat: 
282 rushing yards by Tennessee in Week One versus Jacksonville

Opening weekend, Chris Brown, LenDale White, and Vince Young ran roughshod over the Jags.  Ever since, Jacksonville has been an entirely different defense.

This week, they held the Chiefs to 10 yards rushing—total!  The Jacksonville D is all the way back to its old destructive form, which is just what the team needs to make a playoff run.

Painfully true stat:  Byron Leftwich, 2-8, 28 yards, no touchdowns, one interception

Was he signed solely to make Joey Harrington look good?

Premature MVP ballot

1. Tom Brady: He looked bad and still threw three touchdowns.

2. Peyton Manning: I have that same dream where I’m trapped in a hotel hallway with Jason Taylor bearing down on me.

3. Willie Parker: Because I can’t bring myself to vote for Big Ben.

Weekly Super Bowl prediction:  Colts vs. Cardinals.

Do we really have to have an NFC team?

For Monday’s pick and more, visit