By Keith Antigiovanni
The Houston Texans (8-3) continue to lead the AFC South but are now starting their third string quarterback T.J. Yates after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart's injuries have put them out for the 2011 regular season. The good news for the Texans is that their top WR Andre Johnson is back, they have an excellent run game with Arian Foster and Ben Tate and an improved defense thanks to defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
The question is how well Yates can pick up the quarterback-friendly offense which will feature a run game but Yates will need to make plays as a QB as opposing defenses stack the box against the run and force the QB to make plays.
Texans' Head Coach Gary Kubiak has weathered the storm thus far and will have to keep his team focused as they inch their way to the franchises' first ever playoff appearance. Houston will face the 7-4 Atlanta Falcons at home this week.
The Tennessee Titans (6-5) are the Texans remaining opposition in the division at two games behind. Tennessee pulled out a dramatic 20-17 victory over Tampa Bay and will travel to Buffalo (5-6) to remain in contention for the division title and wild card.
Veteran quarterback Matt Hasselback has done a fine job for the Titans while running back Chris Johnson has had a slow start after holding out for most of the training camp and preseason.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (3-8) are undergoing a major overhaul with five games left in the season as nine-year Head Coach Jack Del Rio was fired on Tuesday followed by owner Wayne Weaver announcment of the sale of the Jaguars since the franchises' inception in 1995.
Assistant coach Mel Tucker was named Del Rio's interim replacement and has named rookie Blaine Gabbert to QB after he was pulled in the fourth quarter against the Texans the previous week.
The next five games will be a re-evaluation for the future of the franchise.
The Indianapolis Colts (0-11) are having their worst season since 1998, Peyton Manning's rookie season. For football fans it is impossible to understand how poorly the Colts have played in Peyton's absence.
Without question, Peyton Manning is one of the top quarterbacks of all-time, if not the best of all-time, but there is simply no excuse for a once dominant franchise to have dropped this far. Whether it is poor drafting, poor coaching or poor play it is inexcusable for this proud franchise to be winless.
The Colts were 115-45 in the 2000's (2000-2009) and 125-51 in the past 11 years with 7 AFC South titles, 3 AFC title game appearances, 2 AFC titles and 1 Super Bowl titles.
Indianapolis is in position to draft Andrew Luck for next year and with Peyton Manning's possible return this team needs to work much harder next year to get back to where they have been the past decade.