Will the AFC South have a repeat of last season? Only two games separated the first place Houston Texans and the third place Tennessee Titans, with the Indianapolis Colts sandwiched right in the middle. The Jacksonville Jaguars would also like to force their way into that conversation instead of floundering at the bottom of the division. Who will represent the AFC South in the playoffs this year?
Jacksonville Jaguar fans believe that their team should be competitive year in and year out, especially in the football crazed state of Florida. Ownership agrees and they are doing their part in boosting the talent level of the Jags. This offseason, management decided to part ways with Blake Bortles, a man they had hoped would be a franchise quarterback, went out, and picked up Former Eagle Nick Foles. Foles has been a perennial backup but oddly seems to play for teams that lose starting QBs to injury, forcing him into a lot of playing time. The playing time eventually culminated in him becoming a Super Bowl MVP two seasons ago. The defense is stingy and a healthy Leonard Fournette is as good a back as there is in the NFL. The running game and defense will finally be accompanied by a veteran quarterback with talent. Foles will face something he is not familiar with this season, though…pressure. As a backup, Foles always came in with no expectations and played care-free. The pressure will take it’s toll and the young players will not gel fast enough, leaving this team with a 4-win finish and another wasted year.
In Nashville, the Tennessee Titans are hoping to get over the hump and make the playoffs this year. Following three consecutive 9-win seasons, only making the playoffs in one of them and failing to win the division, the Titans think this may be their year. Marcus Mariota appears to have the potential to be special but each year he fails to live up to the hype. This year will be no different as Mariota will slowly backslide on his development, hurting the organization. The offense has been in the lower third of the league and even though the defense plays well, they are not good enough to carry the offense. The Elldee Sports Formula is predicting a 7-9 record at the end of the year, a 2-game slide from the last 3 seasons.
The biggest news in the NFL has just come out of Indianapolis, home of the Colts. All-Pro Quarterback, Andrew Luck, has announced his retirement after injury concerns forced him to re-evaluate his life’s decisions. The fans in Indy don’t need to be that worried though, as Luck has been questionable or out for much of his last few seasons so the team and organization are prepared to play without him. Jacoby Brissett is no Andrew Luck but he is a serviceable stand-in and may even grow to be an outstanding player. The defense is strong and will keep this team competitive in most games, providing a legitimate chance to win them. The formula is actually predicting a 13-win season. Now, Luck is a difference maker so it is possible that the ceiling of 13 may be a game or two high but I can only work with information I have. If the Colts can finish the year at 13-3, they will earn a #5 seed and a road playoff match in sunny Los Angeles.
The cream of the crop in the AFC South are the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson is a young quarterback that has played tremendously well when healthy. The biggest problem so far in his career is the injury bug. The Texans cannot afford to lose him this year as starting RB Lamar Miller tore his ACL and will miss this season. In fact, despite above average offensive and defensive stats, this team has struggled to keep it’s stars healthy. It seems that each year, they lose a key starter just prior to the season beginning. Although Miller is a starter, running backs are much easier to replace. Their luck cannot be that bad for another year so I believe they will go into the season with minimal additional injuries. The star power and schedule line up for the Texans, enabling them to finish the year 15-1, garner a #2 playoff seed, and hold a serious shot at reaching the Super Bowl.
The AFC South will be strong again and will send two teams to the playoffs for the second straight season. The Houston Texans will finish the regular season with a historical best 15 wins and a divisional championship. The Indianapolis Colts will fight through the shocking retirement of Andrew Luck and prove to be more than just a one-man show. They will finish second in the South with 13 wins and receive an invitation to the playoffs. The Tennessee Titans will slide this season, miss the playoffs, and finish with a losing record for the first time since only winning three games in 2015. The Jacksonville Jaguars will continue to struggle and lose support of the local community, potentially forcing this team to eventually move to a friendlier city. Until next time, good luck!