A Look Around The AFC South: Week 1

Intro: Take a comprehensive look around the AFC South after the first week of action in the 2016 regular season.


INDIANAPOLIS — Though the Indianapolis Colts dropped their season opener on Sunday to the Detroit Lions, they certainly haven't put themselves behind the eight ball when it comes to the AFC South Division standings.

Three of the four AFC South teams lost their season openers on Sunday, with the Houston Texas — who defeated the Chicago Bears, 23-14 — being the lone exception.

But all four divisional teams certainly showed signs of improvement from a year ago, which could be expected after the Colts, Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans each made noted improvements to their rosters this offseason, both in the draft and in free agency.

Here's a comprehensive look around the rest of the AFC South action during Week 1 of the 2016 regular season:

• Houston Texans 23, Chicago Bears 14:
The Texans (1-0) used an 18-yard touchdown pass from new quarterback Brock Osweiler to rookie Will Fuller V with 12:44 left in the fourth quarter to take a 20-14 lead over the Bears, and added a 38-yard field goal for good measure with 6:10 left in the game to defeat the Bears, 23-14, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Osweiler had a mostly productive day in his first start with the Texans, completing 22-of-35 passes for 231 yards and and two touchdowns to one interception, for a quarterback rating of 89.1. His favorite target on the day was the Notre Dame product Fuller, as the 2016 first-round pick had five receptions on 11 total targets for 107 yards and a touchdown.

New Houston running back Lamar Miller also put in a career day, running the ball 28 times for 106 yards.

The Texans' defense, meanwhile, had some timely plays throughout the afternoon, as the Bears' offense would convert just 4-of-13 (31 percent) of its third-down attempts. Chicago (0-1) was also 0-of-2 on fourth down conversions.

Houston sacked Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler five times in the contest, with outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus leading the way with two on the day. He also had a forced fumble. Defensive end J.J. Watt was held to just one tackle in the season opener, though he did record three quarterback hits.

Safety Andre Hal rebounded from a couple earlier miscues to record an interception for the Texans.

Houston continues its early-season home swing on Sunday, when it plays host to the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0), who defeated the San Diego Chargers, 33-27, in Week 1.


• Green Bay Packers 27, Jacksonville Jaguars 23:
This one came down to the wire in Jacksonville.

Mounting a late drive to possibly pull ahead and earn the Week 1 victory, the Jaguars faced a 4th and 1 from the Green Bay 14-yard line.

Although Jacksonville (0-1) had converted its first three fourth-down conversion attempts in the game, this play — a bubble screen to Allen Hurns with heavy blitz from the Green Bay defense — failed to even get a yard, as the Packers (1-0) escaped with the 27-23 victory.

Blake Bortles had a productive day passing the ball, but found that finding the end zone via the air was a major challenge. He completed 24-of-39 passes for 320 yards, but had just one touchdown — to tight end Julius Thomas — to one interception.

The Green Bay defense limited the Jacksonville offense to just 48 total yards rushing on the afternoon. T.J. Yeldon had just 39 yards rushing on 21 attempts for a 1.9 yards-per-carry average, though he did score a touchdown on the afternoon.

Though the Jaguars were 3-of-4 on fourth downs, their offense could only convert 4-of-15 (27 percent) of its tries on third down. The Packers, meanwhile, were 7-of-14 on third down, and 1-of-1 on fourth down.

Safety Johnathan Cyprien led the Jacksonville defense with nine total tackles on the day. Defensive end Jared Odrick had five tackles and the Jaguars' lone sack of quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Jaguars on Sunday travel to San Diego to take on the Chargers (0-1), who fell to the Chiefs, 33-27, in Week 1.


• Minnesota Vikings 25, Tennessee Titans 16
The Titans' defense certainly answered the call in their Week 1 matchup against the Vikings, but some major miscues on offense put Tennessee in a hole in its 25-16 loss to open the season.

The Titans (0-1) actually took a 10-0 lead into halftime, thanks in large part to a six-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Mariota to newcomer Demarco Murray with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.

But the second half belonged to Minnesota (1-0).

Other than four Blair Walsh field goals, the Vikings' defense scored twice in the final two periods — once on a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown by linebacker Eric Kendricks, and the other on a 24-yard fumble return for a touchdown by defensive end Danielle Hunter — to take the lead and pull away for good.

Murray had another four-yard touchdown reception late, but the Vikings were able to fall on the Titans' onside kick attempt and end the game from there.

Coming off a solid rookie season, Mariota completed 25-of-41 passes for 271 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, while also running four times for 19 yards. Rookie wide receiver Tajae Sharp led Tennessee with seven receptions for 76 yards, while Murray had just 42 yards rushing on 13 attempts in his Titans debut.

The Tennessee defense was unable to get much pressure throughout the afternoon, recording zero sacks and no interceptions — though it did hold Adrian Peterson to just 31 yards rushing on 19 attempts. Safety Da'Norris Searcy had a team-high eight tackles on the day for the Titans.

Tennessee next travels to take on the Lions (1-0), who defeated the Colts, 39-35, in Week 1 action.

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