AFC stock reports: Texans, Colts are on the rise

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 06: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles in the second quarter and completes a 27-yard touchdown throw against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium on October 6, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 06: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs scrambles in the second quarter and completes a 27-yard touchdown throw against the Indianapolis Colts at Arrowhead Stadium on October 6, 2019 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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Jacksonville Jaguars

It might be surprising that a team like the Jacksonville Jaguars would make my list of rising stocks following a loss to the Carolina Panthers that left them 2-3. With that being said, Jacksonville is a team that seems to be getting better with each week that passes. Despite all of the drama surrounding the defense and coaching staff, sixth-round pick rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew continues to look like he belongs as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

After being named NFL offensive rookie of the month in September, Minshew traveled to take on the Carolina Panthers. Facing off against the NFL’s top-rated pass defense, Minshew threw for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns. Likely the biggest takeaway is Minshew’s ability to stay calm under pressure and forget the bad plays. That’s not to say that he hasn’t had his struggles too.

While Minshew Magic has looked great stepping in for the injured Nick Foles, he has had a fumbling problem over these last five games. He added another 3 fumbles in this game against the Panthers including one that was stripped by rookie defensive lineman Brian Burns which allowed Carolina to kill the clock and come away with the victory.

There are absolutely ups and downs with Minshew and the Jaguars, but I think that we have seen a progression from this offense over these last few weeks. The rookie has had to put this team on his back numerous times over the last few weeks and it hasn’t been too much for him.

Minshew and the Jags moved down the field against the Houston Texans and scored a touchdown with 30 seconds left only to lose 13-12 because the team decided to go for a two-point conversion and run the ball despite the struggles they’ve had this season. Against the Broncos, Minshew carried the team back from a two-touchdown deficit with two touchdown passes and ended up with a victory 26-24.

In a wide-open division like the AFC South, who knows what will happen.

Houston Texans

When talking about the AFC being full of inconsistent teams, it’s only a matter of time before you talk about the Houston Texans. Coming into each week, fans rarely know what to expect from their favorite team as they have had some major highs and lows so far. After an amazing performance which seemed to look like an upward trend for the offensive line against the Los Angeles Chargers, the unit struggled heavily against Carolina last week giving up six sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

Houston had another turnaround week facing off against the Atlanta Falcons in which quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns. Most of that success can be attributed to the offensive line who allowed for a clean pocket most of the game. That gave Watson time to make big plays down the field. Wide receiver Will Fuller had a career game hauling in 14 catches for 217 yards and 3 touchdowns. Fuller almost walked away with four touchdowns, but he was tackled just shy of the goal line on a key play.

The Texans defensive line dominated the Falcons offensive line unit as they were consistently in the face of Matt Ryan. Atlanta was unable to get the running game going due to multiple tackles for a loss and he was forced to throw the ball for much of the game. J.J. Watt was matched up across from rookie right tackle Kaleb McGary for most of the game and delivered a true welcome to the NFL type of game for the young tackle. Watt and defensive tackle D.J. Reader came up with sacks late in the game, and an interception returned for a touchdown by safety Tashaun Gipson helped seal the game.

It’s hard to predict what the Texans will do each week, but players like Watson give them a high potential for the season. If the offensive line and defense can put together some kind of consistency and head coach Bill O’Brien can find a way not to screw things up moving forward, this could be a dangerous team.

Once again, the AFC South is up for grabs.

Indianapolis Colts

What a season it’s been for the Indianapolis Colts following the retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck. Somehow this team has come together enough to fight and prove that they are still a competitive team. Between head coach Frank Reich and general manager Chris Ballard, Indianapolis has continued to push forward and build this team with great coaching and ability to rebuild through the draft by bringing in young talent that can start right away.

While the Kansas City Chiefs had a multitude of injuries to start their Week 5 game, the Colts had plenty of their own. By building this team by focusing heavily on the trenches and making them believe that they are still a good team with or without their star quarterback, the team is sitting at 3-2 after five games.

While it’s a longshot for the Colts to win major playoff games, it’s not out of the question. The two losses on their record were a close game against the Chargers in which their kicker gave the win away and a loss to the Oakland Raiders in which the team was clearly having an off-week. They were also without their top players in that game as well.

Given what the Colts have overcome to this point following the loss of Luck, I wouldn’t put it past this organization to make a run for the playoffs.