2017 AFC South Preview

Posted on 06 September 2017


2017 AFC South Preview

 

Tennessee Titans (10-6)

 

I have liked the way Tennessee has progressed and, while Houston has had the advantage on this division in recent years, I think the Titans break through this year.  A lot depends on how Marcus Mariota responds from last year’s injury, but it appears he is all set to go.  I expect Mariota to limit his running but that’s okay because the Titans have both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry to take care of that.  The offensive line will suffer with the departure of Chance Warmack but they are solid nonetheless.  Regardless of what people may think of the character of Taylor Lewa,n he would be my pick for second best left tackle in the league (Tyron Smith).  On defense, Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan give a good pass rush, and Jurrell Casey gets pressure up the middle.  The secondary will rely heavily on first round pick Adoree Jackson this season.  Jackson was highly touted, and there is belief he will be involved in special teams and maybe offensive plays as well, but he better learn quickly how to play defense.  Tennessee was a team that routinely lost games when they were .500 with a chance to go above last season.  They did late, but too late for the postseason.  I expect that this year they will correct those issues and win the division.

 

Houston Texans (9-7)**

 

Houston is led by their spectacular defense.  J.J. Watt continues to perform year after year (though his injuries are a bit of a concern), and Jadeveon Clowney, I feel, is ready for a breakout season.  The secondary takes a hit with the departure of A.J. Bouye (Jaguars), but the linebackers, Brian Cushing and Whitney Mercilus, are solid.  I have to wonder what Houston is doing on offense though.  DeShaun Watson was definitely a good move drafting him in the first round, but they are going to start Tom Savage for some reason.  Colin Kaepernick is another story, but for a team with this good of a defense to go with Tom Savage instead of a Kaepernick (when deciding to give the rookie some time) speaks to something going on.  There have been injuries and suspensions with the receiving core that is an area of concern as well.  I think Watson will be starting sooner than later and frankly, I don’t know why he isn’t starting the season.  The defense is that good that they will be in it all year but what keeps them from the division will be the offensive struggles between the quarterback and receivers situation.

 

Indianapolis Colts (8-8)

 

More questions then answers going on with this Colts team and a lot of that involves Andrew Luck.  Luck’s early ascension in his career seems like a longer and longer time ago, as injuries seem to be the story with him now.  Luck likely won’t be starting week 1, because of injury and that is one of many concerns of the offense.  The Colts have refused to address the offensive line.  Frank Gore is 34, and outside of T.Y. Hilton, the receiving core is pedestrian.  The Colts have addressed their defense by drafting safety Malik Hooker in the first round and corner Quincy Wilson in the second round to help Vontae Davis in their secondary.  Those additions won’t mean much, however, with the poor front seven the Colts have.  This team could be in for a really bad year, but playing both the weak AFC North and NFC West divisions should enable this team to be close to .500.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)

 

It really all comes down to whether Blake Bortles has it or doesn’t with the Jaguars.  Everything would indicate the latter here, and this team supposedly looked at Colin Kaepernick and one would need to question why he wasn’t signed?  Bortles simply doesn’t keep his decision making consistent enough, and it is stunting where this team needs to go.  He has receiving talent in Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson which makes it all that more frustrating.  Defensively, the Jaguars have been solid in recent years and have made nice additions to their team this offseason especially in the secondary.  Safety Barry Church (Dallas) and A.J. Bouye (Houston) bring nice veteran experience to the secondary and playmaking ability as well.  Dante Fowler Jr. enters his third season, but he missed all of his rookie campaign, and this could be a make or break season for him.  But, I think he will make it.  If Blake Bortles ever got it together, I’d give this team a chance; especially with their weak schedule, but there are no indications Bortles will do so.

 

**Denotes wildcard team





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One Response to “2017 AFC South Preview”

  1. Yale Drawe says:

    Strong analysis of this division.


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