AFC South Preview

The Tailgate Talk Show crew has been working hard this week to provide opinions and analysis of each NFL division leading up to kickoff tomorrow.

We’ve previewed the both Eastern and Western divisions, The NFC North and NFC South, so now we’ll look at the AFC South.

A division that was incredibly disappointing last season now has the potential to be one of the most exciting, but will it really?

Let’s break it down.

usa-today-9463311-0
(Photo Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports)

Houston Texans
2015 Record: 9-7 (first in South)
Key additions: QB Brock Osweiler, G Jeff Allen, RB Lamar Miller, G Tony Bergstrom, WR Will Fuller, WR Braxton Miller
Key losses: G Brandon Brooks, C Ben Jones
W2W4: After starting four quarterbacks in 2015 (Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallet, T.J. Yates, Brandon Weeden) the Texans still managed to win a weak division thanks to playmakers like WR DeAndre Hopkins and a defense led by All-Pro DE JJ Watt. Houston went out and got who they believe will be its franchise QB in Osweiler via Free Agency and drafted guys like Fuller and Miller to compliment Hopkins. How the Texans do all depends on Osweiler, who signed a mega deal after starting seven games for the Denver Broncos in 2015 in Peyton Manning’s absence, going 5-2 in that span. I believe Osweiler will struggle early, but eventually find his groove. However, it will be too late for a division title. I predict they finish 9-7 again.

usatsi_8869882-696x991(Photo Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Jacksonville Jaguars
2015 Record:
5-11 (third in South)
Key additions: DT Malik Jackson, RB Chris Ivory, CB Prince Amukamara, S Tashaun Gipson, OT Kelvin Beachum, DB Jalen Ramsey, LB Myles Jack
Key losses: C Stefan Wisniewski
W2W4: No team in my opinion has higher expectations this year than the Jaguars, who aren’t expected to be Super Bowl contenders, but at the very least do no worse than .500. The offense is set with third-year QB Blake Bortles, who threw 35 TD passes last year, while receivers Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson are quietly becoming the most exciting WR duo in the league. There’s also Pro Bowl TE Julius Thomas and the addition of RB Chris Ivory who rushed for over 1,000 yards with the New York Jets last year. The defense is where the team improved heavily, signing Jackson in Free Agency while drafting Ramsey and Jack. Plus, 2015 first round pick DE Dante Fowler will be back after tearing his ACL in the first practice of rookie minicamp last year. I’m not predicting a division title, or even a playoff appearance for the Jags this year, but I will predict they get over the losing hump and finish 8-8. In 2017 though, this team will have 13-3 written all over it.

indianapolis-colts(Photo Credit: Reuters.com)

Indianapolis Colts
2015 Record:
8-8 (second in South)
Key additions: C Ryan Kelly, S T.J. Green, OT La’Raven Clark
Key losses: LB Jerrell Freeman, S Dwight Lowery, QB Matt Hasselbeck, TE Coby Fleener
W2W4: Expectations were sky high for the Colts in 2015, as anything short of a Super Bowl berth was unacceptable. Well, they didn’t reach the Super Bowl, let alone the playoffs in general. Luck was hurt all season and the defense was… the defense. Luck has been doing it almost all by himself since being drafted, and with a mediocre WR corp such as T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief, Luck will have very few targets to throw to. Gore will hopefully be the ageless wonder he is, and the Colts bulked up the offensive line in the draft and drafted a few defensive playmakers. Although the Colts lack talent, Luck I believe will bounce back from his horrendous 2015, which is all Indianapolis needs to win the division title with a 9-7 record.

demarco-murray-running-back-tennessee-titans_pg_600(Photo Credit: Mark Zaleski, NFL.com)

Tennessee Titans
2015 Record:
2-14 (last in South)
Key additions: WR Rishard Matthews, RB DeMarco Murray, C Ben Jones, RB Derrick Henry, OT Jack Conklin
Key losses: CB Coty Sensabaugh, WR Dorial Green-Beckham
W2W4: The Titans are slowly, but surely, improving as a team overall. QB Marcus Mariota showed flashes in his rookie year as being a franchise player, but injuries prevented him from reaching his potential. Tennessee drafting Conklin will help with the o-line and the 1-2 punch of Henry and Murray will ease the pressure of Mariota. The biggest problem is the lack of throwing targets outside of All-Pro TE Delanie Walker, especially after trading their 2015 second round pick, Green-Beckham, to the Philadelphia Eagles. I expect the Titans to improve only a little bit this season to a 6-10 record.


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