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The division of potential. The AFC South has been a division that has mostly been dominated by an Indianapolis Colts QB for what seems like 25 years. First it was Peyton Manning and recently it had been Andrew Luck, but with the Colts wasting away another generational talent, it has allowed the other teams in the division to play catch up. The South is now a division of potential and possibility. Looking through each team, you can start to see that this might be a division that could turn out to be the most competitive division in all of professional football. Consider:

1. Tennessee looks to be knocking on the door of the Super Bowl and could contend as soon as this year. Can Marcus Mariota turn in a healthy 16 games season? Can the additions of Corey Davis & Eric Decker given Mariota legitimate outside threats with more talent that he’s ever had? Jonnu Smith is a Delanie Walker clone and those TEs combined with the DeMarco Murray & Derrick Henry give Tennessee an amazing core on offense. The O-Line is solid. Can Tennessee get consistent secondary play? If so this is a Super Bowl level team.

2. Jacksonville has done a good job surrounding Blake Bortles with a lot of players who can help him. Drafting Leonard Fournette shows that the Jaguars want to be more of a power running team. Combine that ball control with all the potential young stars they have on defense and you have a squad that can grind games down that results in a lot of wins if Bortles can simply adapt to the playmakers he has around him.

3. Houston is a full formed team if they can get good QB play. It’s probably safe to say Tom Savage isn’t the answer and it’s too early to know if Deshaun Watson is the answer, but if Houston can figure out a way to get either guy going, they have have a very strong defense combined with a very strong running game that can keep them winning divisions for the foreseeable future.

4. The Colts of course have a transcendent star at QB that they can’t seem to help. New GM Chris Ballard has done a great job thus far in rebuilding the Colts roster and it’s entirely possible that Indianapolis could win the division this year on the strength of Andrew Luck’s ability alone, but with him coming off a shoulder injury and the roster being somewhat depleted, you have to wonder if Indianapolis wouldn’t be best served by getting Luck 100% healthy with no possibility for setbacks even if that meant sacrificing a season and using the time to keep building the roster.

If everything breaks right for these 4 teams, this division becomes ultra-competitive, but at the same time it is rife with the possibility of failure. Can Mariota be a starter who gives the Titans 16 starts a year? Is Blake Bortles really the answer? Can Houston fix it’s QB problems? Can Andrew Luck be Andrew Luck soon? This is a fascinating division that should be able to keep your interest for the entire 2017 season and beyond.

Note: Teams are listed in the order I think they’ll finish for the 2017 NFL season.

Computer Hope There is absolutely nothing to dislike about the Titans offensively. They will be a bit unproven but you can’t fault the organization because they’ve done everything to make it click. Drafting Corey Davis was a brilliant move. Drafting Jack Conklin & Derrick Henry a year ago was amazing. Signing Eric Decker was great. The O-Line is solid. The running game is solid & Marcus Mariota has 33TD to 0INT for his career in the redzone! Defensively the Titans might struggle in the secondary but their Front-7 is amazing with guys like Brian Orakpo, Derrick Morgan, Jurrell Casey & Daquon Jones. They win the South easily.
Computer Hope For Jacksonville offensively it’s about putting Blake Bortles in a position where he can succeed. I think Jacksonville has made strides here drafting Leonard Fournett, Cam Robinson & DeDe Westbrook. Allen Hurns & Allen Robinson are solid receiver and the running game should vastly improve. Jacksonville has done a ton in the draft & through free agency to upgrade the defense. They got Calais Campbell this offseason to play DE an also added CB AJ Bouye & S Barry Church. Combining them with Malik Jackson, Sheldon Day, Telvin Smith, Jalen Ramsey & Myles Jack should make it interesting. They’ll be competitive.
Computer Hope The NFL is a QB driving league and right now the Texans have Tom Savage and Deshaun Watson competing for their starting QB job. That’s rough. Houston’s O-Line isn’t great outside of Duane Brown at LT so that’s a problem as well. I really like Lamar Miller and D’Onta Foreman at tailback but they need to have a passing game. JJ Watt’s return to DE is fantastic and Houston is going to have a GREAT defense with Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus & Bernardrick McKinney. The secondary needs to replace some departures but overall a solid defense. The inexperience at QB will keep them from a division title.
Computer Hope It pains me to put the Colts here as an Indianapolis native, but I think this might be a lost season for the Colts and GM Chris Ballard who is tasked with fixing the franchise knows it. I think owner Jim Irsay knows what a disaster it was for the Colts to win one Super Bowl with the greatest QB of all time. He doesn’t want to make the same mistake with Andrew Luck which is why we don’t really know when Luck will be ready with his shoulder. If the Colts can’t win the Super Bowl in 2017, why risk #12’s health? I like Malik Hooker. I like Marlon Mack & Quincy Wilson. Indianapolis needs to protect Luck & keep building.

August 13, 2017 - Posted by | AFC South, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, Predictions, Preseason, Previews, Tennessee Titans

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