It's no hidden secret how big this week is for us as we hit the road to play Houston in our first of two games against the Texans this year. A win this week would be huge. That's a given. But what did last week's big, crazy win over Detroit mean in terms of categorical scheduling, and what kind of advantage do the Jaguars have now that they've earned their first division win against Indy? Let's take a look.
Again, if you're unsure what the hell I'm even talking about, and what all this "obsessive, over-analytical, and totally unnecessary" view on the NFL schedule even is, check out my first-ever post about categorical scheduling here.
More details after the jump.
Jacksonville's come-from-behind victory last week on the road vs. Indianapolis was huge in terms of gaining ground within the division. An 0-2 early hole would have been hard to climb out of, and the fact that they snagged the win on the road was even sweeter. The win puts them at 1-1 against the AFC South, sending the Colts to 0-1 on the early season. Jacksonville's window of opportunity continues this week with what I believe is a very winnable contest at home vs. their AFC North opponent this year - the Cincinnati Bengals. Both the Jags and Bengals finished in 3rd in their divisions last year, and this game will be first between the two divisions this season. Because the Jags are leading off in this category, a win here would be nice for them, since both us (Titans) and the Texans will face stiff opposition against Pittsburgh and Baltimore later in the year.
Indianapolis put themselves in a less-than-ideal position by letting that lead slip away at Lucas Oil vs. the Jags. They head into their very early bye week with an 0-1 record in the AFC South category, and their only win so far has come in the NFC North, which the Titans matched last week vs. Detroit, wiping out Indy's advantage there. The downside is that the Colts have already lost one NFC North game as well, so they only have two more opportunities to gain ground there to the Titans' three. The Colts will idle this week while hoping the Bengals can top the Jaguars and while the Texans slug it out with us.
Denver didn't help us much last week, as the Texans were able to beat them and solidify a 1-game advantage over us in the AFC West category, meaning we'll need to make up that ground elsewhere. The good news is that we are already off to a good start on that quest, as we were able to start out 1-0 in the NFC North category with that win over Detroit. If we can finish one game (or more) ahead of Houston in the NFC North, then the AFC West category will have been a wash. Time will tell.
There's no doubt that our game vs. the Texans is the biggest game in the division this week. The Texans have already established a 1-0 record in the AFC South category, and we have yet to play a game in that group. If we can top them, getting off to a 1-0 start while sending them to 1-1, we'll be in a very good position early on. This will no doubt be one of our toughest and most important games of the year, since Houston poses the biggest threat to us, and this is the road game version of this matchup. Don't let the fact that it's only Week 4 fool you. A win here is huge, and a loss would put Houston in a really good place. Not only would they be 4-0 overall (again, overall record isn't as important here as knowing who's been played and who remains on the schedule), but they'd be 2-0 in the AFC South and sitting in a pretty good position in several key categories.