Conventional wisdom says the AFC is far superior to the NFC.
On Sunday, we'll find out if the same can be said of the AFC South and the AFC West.
Through the first 10 weeks of the NFL season, there has been no better division than the South. With the Colts, Titans, and Jaguars battling at the top—and even the Texans playing rather un-Texan-like—the competition has been top-notch.
The South's greatness is all the more evident relative to the rest of the league. In every other division, there are multiple bad teams—and in some cases there isn’t even a clear-cut favorite.
The AFC West is one of those duds.
Any division that had the Chiefs on top for several weeks is starved for good competition.
Kansas City was surprisingly mediocre (rather than predictably terrible) to open the season, which was good enough for first in the West. Early stumbles by the Chargers and Broncos—and perpetual stumbling by the Raiders—left the division up for grabs.
It might seem that normalcy has been restored now that the Chargers are a game up on their division foes, but anyone who watched last Sunday's San Diego-Indy game should know that the Bolts far from good.
As it stands, this Sunday’s game with Jacksonville will be a great chance to see just how not good San Diego is.
The Jaguars have played well all season, doing just enough on offense to win with a dominant D. They need to keep winning to put pressure on the Colts and Titans, and to keep pace in the tight AFC Wild Card race.
The physical brand of football played in the South—especially by the Titans and the Jags—is different than that of other divisions. The grind-it-out style may not be flashy, but at least it seems to work.
Tennessee and Jacksonville are good, and they play hard week-in and week-out.
The Chargers know they're in for a battle, but not everyone gives the Jags the credit they deserve. The line for the game, for example, is only three points.
San Diego lost two weeks ago to the Minnesota Vikings, and barely beat a pretty pathetic Indy team last week. Jacksonville is coming off a dominating win over Tennessee, at Tennessee—and they've been consistent for most of the year.
The best case scenario for the Chargers would be a statement win over the Jags. If they can get Philip Rivers back on track, run the ball consistently, and keep Norv Turner busy with a Sudoku for three hours, they might regain a touch of their 2006 form.
A big win would go a long ways toward improving both the Chargers' stock and the stock of the division—but asking San Diego to come up big would be asking them to do something they haven’t done all year.
In other words, we're probably in for more of the same-old disappointing Chargers, and more of the same-old smashmouth Jags.
Prediction: Jaguars 17, Chargers 14
For more picks, visit www.kevanlee.com.