Junior D’s NFL Preview: AFC South

by Junior D on August 22, 2013 · 0 comments

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The AFC South is continuing to look weaker as I go through rosters, schedules and predictions. The Houston Texans are the team to beat in the South…everyone else is playing for second place. Even though there are some young, talented players in the AFC South, most of the division looks just as bad in pre-season games as they do on paper. This has gone from one of the most competitive divisions to absolutely terrible in a relatively short period of time.

HOUSTON TEXANS (2012 Record: 12-4)

The Texans can take a nap in September, wake up at the end of December and still win this division. Even with Matt Schaub’s injuries and declining skills as a QB the Texans still have Andre Johnson, Arian Foster, Ben Tate and a good offensive line to make up for Schaub’s lack of consistency. The defense will continue to be in the NFL’s top 10, so this train isn’t slowing down in 2013.

The Texans offense is never bad. They were ranked 7th overall, 8th in rushing offense and 11th in passing offense in 2012. Things seem to look about the same moving into 2013. The point of contention is Matt Schaub. Everyone wanted to get on the Falcons and Matt Ryan for their lack of postseason success prior to last year…take a good hard look at the Texans before you judge any other team or QB. Schaub has a history of injuries and not playing well in the playoffs. The missing link here is the QB position. Sure, Schaub puts up good numbers but real football is judged by wins and losses. I think fantasy football has clouded our judgment on guys like Schaub. You have one of the best WRs and RBs in the league, along with a top 10 defense and you still can’t win? Everyone is asking whether Arian Foster will be ready for the season because of his injury…I’ve seen this sing and dance before. He will come out swinging because he’s a gamer. Even if he doesn’t they still have Ben Tate who can step in and carry the load.

Their defense is scary up front. All you need to know is that JJ Watt is going to be a beast again this season. They do need some help in the secondary as they ranked 16th against the pass in 2012. They did add Ed Reed at safety but he is getting older and it has been harder for him to stay healthy. Beyond his play, Reed can provide the DBs with more stability in the locker room and on the practice field. I think his presence alone will improve this defensive backfield. They ranked 7th overall last season and it looks like 2013 will be no different. It will be fun to watch these guys destroy other offenses this year.

Everything has stayed intact with the Texans. They didn’t make many changes in the offseason and they should walk through the AFC South division this season. It is definitely theirs to lose. Don’t get too excited because Matt Schaub will pull a disappearing act at some point during the season and will miss approximately 5-6 weeks after he pulls his labia while running out of bounds. They will then have to rely on their backup, TJ Yates, to win a playoff game…that means another first round exit by the Texans.

2013 Prediction: 11-5

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (2012 Record: 11-5)

Last season for the Colts was one of inspiration and success. They rallied around their coach, Chuck Pagano, and his bout with cancer. It was a great story and they made the playoff with Andrew Luck under center. It was a miracle season…and that’s all it was. There are too many questions for the Colts coming into the 2013 season for me to be on the bandwagon.

After Manning was escorted out Indy, the Colts drafted the best QB prospect since John Elway. Most teams don’t get that lucky. They now have back to back franchise quarterbacks and Colts fans couldn’t be happier. Well, they need to lower their expectations for 2013. Andrew Luck, although very good, needs to continue to improve. He needs to stay away from the ‘sophomore slump’ that most young QBs go through. They also need a better running game. They ranked 22nd in rushing offense last season and that’s not going to get it done in the NFL. They couldn’t kill the clock in the fourth quarter and they had too many bounces go their way. They can’t always bet on good luck. They did add Ahmad Bradshaw to help with the running game and Darrius Heyward-Bey toad to their WR depth.

I’ve said many defenses were terrible last season and this Colts team will be added to that list. They ranked 26th overall, 29th against the run and 21st against the pass…their offensive passing stats were a little inflated because the Colts defense couldn’t stop anyone from scoring. The defense averaged 24.2 points allowed last season and 2013 doesn’t look any different. They did add some pieces like S LaRon Landry and DT Ricky Jean-Francois but it won’t make a huge difference. If the defense does continue to play as soft as tissue paper then the offense will have to get into more shootouts and that puts more pressure on Andrew Luck.

No matter how I look at this Colts team going into this season, they don’t look very good. There are still way too many questions that surround them to make me think they will have anywhere near the same amount of success they last season. We still don’t know if Chuck Pagano is a good head coach. Even though he was the inspirational leader of the team in 2012, he didn’t do much coaching last season. Hopefully Chuck can succeed in Indianapolis because his story is great and he seems like a great guy but we’ll see if he can give this team the spark that it needs to improve in 2013.

2013 Prediction: 9-7

TENNESSEE TITANS (2012 Record: 6-10)

The Titans only won 6 games last season and didn’t look good doing it. Chris Johnson got paid and hasn’t been the same since. Jake Locker was supposed to be the face of the franchise and instead he turned out to be just another face. This team was horrible in every phase of the game and is trying to get back to the days of Eddie George and Steve McNair…it’s gonna be a while before they get back to the top of the mountain in the AFC.

The offense was bad last season and it seems like things will be the same in 2013. Jake Locker completed only 56% of his passes and had a 74 QB Rating. He is far from where they need him to be. They ranked 26th in overall offense, 21st in rushing and 22nd in passing…that and a 6-10 record will get you a high draft pick. They did try to improve their offensive line by signing, free agent guard, Andy Levitre (Buffalo) but they did little else to improve at the skilled positions. They have Kenny Britt who has impressed in the past but has been hampered by a knee injury that is still bothering him. They did draft Justin Hunter who should be a good deep threat as rookie in 2013. They need Chris Johnson to step up and be the RB from a few years ago Along with Levitre they also drafted Chance Warmack to help with their terrible run blocking from a year ago. This should be another painful year for the Titans offense.

They did try to improve on their 27th overall ranked defense from 2012. During this preseason they still look the same old, tired Titans from last year though. They are missing tackles and seem to be one step behind at all times. They did bring in defensive guru, Gregg Williams (that most people know from the Saints bounty scandal) to help this defense improve but Williams is getting an ulcer instead. Who knows if Williams can improve on this defensive unit but the good news is that they can’t get much worse.

Things don’t look good for the Titans going into the 2013 regular season. This coaching staff has an uphill battle and that hill is looking more like a mountain every day. Every fan expects the best before the regular season starts but Titans fans aren’t too happy at this point. There are too many holes that need to be filled and this roster doesn’t look like a team that will even get to an 8-8 record. I see this Titans team struggling again…the only other good news is that they play in the same division as the Jaguars who are probably the worst team in the league.

2013 Prediction: 7-9

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2012 Record: 2-14)

The only bright spot after the 2011 season for the Jaguars was Maurice Jones Drew. MJD cried about his contract and the Jaguars stood their ground. When MJD finally played, he got hurt and was lost for the season. Coming into this season MJD looks like the only good thing in Jacksonville again. Their QB situation is garbage and their star WR, Justin Blackmon, is suspended for the first four games of the season. Their defense is terrible as well…they should get a high draft pick in 2014.

As I stated before, their offense is in trouble. Their best option at QB right now looks like a robotic Chad Henne. The Blaine Gabbert project completely blew up in Jacksonville’s face and he will become a really expensive backup QB. Even though they have said Gabbert will start in the first regular season game, he should be playing left bench by week 3. Once again, MJD is the best player on this entire team and they need him to produce if they want to win more than 2 games this season. They ranked 29th overall and 30th in rushing last season so a healthy MJD should improve the running game. When they get Blackmon back that should help the passing attack but, let’s face it, the Jaguars aren’t doing anything this season.

Their defense was worse than their offense in 2012…if that’s even possible. They ranked 30th overall, 30th against the run and 22nd against the pass. They do look better and younger on defense this season so they should be better than last year. They added Jason Babin and 2nd year player, Andre Branch should be better. They will have a better pass rush with those two, but we’ll see if they are still bad against the run. Everything is still up in the air with this defense. Being young isn’t always a gift on defense…young players make dumb mistakes and aren’t always sure of themselves.

Overall, the Jaguars should be better than last season but not by much. I still think they will have a top 5 draft pick in 2014. There are some people out there, other than Jags fans, who think they can win 6 games this season but I’m not one of those people. I think they’ll improve by 1 game this season. The best improvements they have made in the offseason were to their new uniforms. Unlike the Miami Dolphins, the Jags went with a cool look instead of a 1970’s pastel look.

2013 Prediction: 3-13

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