The AFC South
The AFC South was created in 2002 after the Houston Texans joined the NFL. The Texans were founded in Houston a few years after the Houston Oilers moved to Nashville and became the Tennessee Titans.
“When the NFL realigned for the 2002 schedule, the newly created AFC South was formed from two former AFC Central teams, an AFC East team, and an expansion team.”
Although the Jacksonville Jaguars joined the NFL nine seasons before the Houston Texans, they have somehow still managed to become the little brother of the AFC South. The Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans have all been superior in the division since 2002. The Colts and Texans have each had their own eras of dominance over the division. Meanwhile the Titans have only won the division twice, but they have the most second place finishes in the division.
AFC South Winners
In 2002, Steve McNair and the Tennessee Titans were still riding high off of their recent success, and beat the Colts out for the division title by only one game.
Peyton Manning then went on and led the Colts to win the division for 5 straight years from 2003-2007. The Colts dominated during that 5 year span with an overall record of 63-17.
In 2008, the Tennessee Titans prided themselves on their run game and a strong defense. Chris Johnson and LenDale White ran the Titans all the way to 13-3 to win the AFC South. Michael Griffin and Keith Bulluck anchored the defense, making them one of the best Titans defenses of all time.
Still led by Peyton Manning, the Colts dominated for two more seasons in 2009 and 2010.
After that, the Houston Texans got their first taste of success. Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson played catch on offense while JJ Watt terrorized opposing QBs with 20.5 sacks in 2012. The Texans won in both 2011 and 2012. The Colts had a short lived fall from the top during this time, losing Peyton Manning helped them secure the #1 pick in the draft to take Andrew Luck out of Stanford.
Andrew Luck was on the rise in 2013 and 2014, leading the Colts to two straight years of division dominance.
The Texans then took back the crown for two straight seasons.
The Rise of the Jaguars
Finally in 2017, after years of not being good enough, the Jacksonville Jaguars took the AFC South division title with a record of 10-6. They went on to play in the AFC Championship game that season. The Jacksonville Jaguars looked like they could be a problem for years to come with 6 Pro Bowlers on defense and a rookie running back who just finished with over 1,000 yards.
Returning to Normal in the AFC South
Winning didn’t last long for the Jaguars. They immediately found their way back to where they belong at the bottom of the AFC South with a 5-11 record. The other three teams in the division all finished above .500.
In 2018 and 2019, the Houston Texans have won the AFC South, but it’s hard to say if they were the better team in 2019. The Tennessee Titans went through a QB change mid season that turned them into one of the most electrifying teams in the NFL. They split with the Houston Texans in the regular season but were able to make it deeper than them in the playoffs. The Titans and Texans both lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, who were rightfully on their way to a Super Bowl win.
Ranking the AFC South by division wins
When looking at division wins, here’s how the AFC South stacks up:
- Indianapolis Colts – 9
- Houston Texans – 6
- Tennessee Titans 2
- Jacksonville Jaguars – 1
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