Since the beginning of the season, Big Cat Country has uncovered many different ways to sell it -- the AFC South is bad.
Approaching week 9, the standings appear in familiar order. Colts sit on top with the Texans inches below. The Jaguars and Titans look upward at their division rivals.
This season, though, it's more like looking sideways. The AFC South shares just nine wins across all four teams.
Wins by division: NFCS 20 NFCW 16 AFCW 16 AFCN 16 AFCE 15 NFCN 14 NFCE 12 AFCS 9 AFC South only division will single-digit win total— Cole Hartley (@ColeFartley) November 3, 2015
The nine-win AFC South is the only single-digit division win-total in the entire NFL.
Alfie wrote about the opportunity for the Jaguars to win the division a few days ago. Ryan wrote about the factors that make this possible.
Now it's my turn.
With the team sitting at two wins, this discussion is in danger of falling down a very slippery slope. But it's undeniable -- with each passing day, playoffs become more and more obtainable for the Jaguars.
As the Jaguars sat out on a bye-week in week 8, the rest of the AFC South (aside from the Texans, maybe) found a way to get even worse.
The Titans (1-6) lost to the Texans, planting themselves in the bottom of the worst division in football. This led the fed-up Tennessee front office to fire their head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Tuesday, leaving Mike Mularkey in charge as interim head coach.
Yes, that Mike Mularkey. The Jaguars play the Titans twice in the next five weeks.
The Colts (3-5) took a loss to the undefeated Carolina Panthers on Monday night. Andrew Luck -- the best quarterback in the AFC South -- has yet to play like the best quarterback in the AFC South this season. And here's the real kicker -- after playing the undefeated Panthers, the Colts' schedule gets no easier. In their next two match-ups, Indy will face the currently undefeated Denver Broncos and the 6-2 Atlanta Falcons.
The Texans (3-5) share the same win/loss record as the Colts, but carry no shortage of issues. The most pressing of these issues include a shaky quarterback situation and a lack of defensive pressure from a defensive line once considered to be the best in football. Houston just recently ditched their second-string QB in a huge media situation that proved just how unstable their front office is.
Here's the thing about the shitty AFC South -- outside of the Jaguars' two wins, the rest of the seven AFC South wins have come from within the division and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Colts, currently sitting on top of the division, have only defeated the Texans, Jaguars, and Titans.
The Texans' three wins have come from the Titans, Jaguars and Bucs.
The Titans only snatched a win from the Bucs in week one.
The Jaguars have won two games outside of the division, but have also forfeited wins to the Colts and Texans.
Overall, it's a pathetic showing for each team in this pathetic division. However, whichever team can right their ship the fastest, or at all, will make it to the playoffs. It's that simple.
And as the AFC South continues to implode, the Jaguars are riding through their bye-week pretty much unscathed. In the final nine weeks, the Jaguars will face the Colts one more time, Texans one more time, and Titans two more times. Honestly, the Jags might be looking at the easiest 2015 second-half stretch out of the four teams in the AFC South.
Putting it simply, the Jaguars should absolutely win this division.
I'm not saying they will, I'm saying they should. Jacksonville is one game back -- actually only one overtime field goal back -- from the Colts.
It's also fair to say that the Colts, Texans, and even Titans should win this division. The entire AFC South really is that bad.
So far this season, the Jaguars definitely haven't played like division-winners. But neither has anyone else in the AFC South. It's difficult to anticipate any one of the four teams taking off in the second half of the season, which means the AFC South division winner will probably make the playoffs with a 6-10 or 7-9 record.
Yes, the Jaguars could very well win the division, because this division is awful.