Following on from his look at the NFL AFC North lineup, Jon E. Bagg now takes a look at the South.
A tough schedule for the Houston Texans, but in the realm of ‘That which does not kill me makes me a better cannibal!’ you can count on them acing the division. The Jacksonville Jaguars have had a couple of great drafts, but it’s still too early yet. Much will depend on Blaine Gabbert’s improvement. The same goes for Jake Locker at the Tennessee Titans, although Chris Johnson will be there to offer assistance more this season. Andrew Luck is a superb successor to Peyton Manning at Indianapolis, but his defense is still definitely suspect in the extreme.
Houston Texans: These guys are good. I predict they’ll have a tough time early in the season but will come around to win at least thirteen games. DeAndre Hopkins is a superb WR opposite the brilliant Andre Johnson. Plain dumb mistakes have just really killed this team in the late rounds over the last few years. This team has still to undergo a heavy-duty reality check once they’re in the playoffs. Expect great things this season and the whole shebang next time! Bagg’s prediction: 13-3.
Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck has it all as a QB. The problem is, after too many winning seasons, that the draft hasn’t been at all good to the Colts lately. Because they’ve been giving up more than 100 yards per game, the Colts have spent beaucoup bucks buying hard men for their quick-rush defense to work for Luck. Somehow, however, the chemistry hasn’t worked yet. Should Luck get hurt, the whole thing disintegrates in short order. Prediction: 8-8.
Tennessee Titans: Just how good is Jake Locker’s arm? After starting out with a series of awesome displays making lots of yards and zero interceptions, thing fell apart over the final four games. Too coddled in college, Locker gets tired easily and definitely has concentration issues. Luckily, the Titans also have Chris Johnson, who gained 1243 yards last season. Chance Warmack is also a fine addition to the defensive line. I believe they’re only a couple of seasons away from becoming a genuine powerhouse. Bagg expects them to go 7-9.
Jacksonville Jaguars: A lot of flux and conflict in camp for the nouveau riche Jaguars. New Coach Gussy Bradley is the third in three years and putting up with an impatient owner like Shahid Khan will not be easy. Their defense is just plain awful, but the competition for QB between Chad Henne and Blaine Gabbert is a challenge for Bradley’s staff. Collectively they just enjoyed a very good draft, but it will take a while for it all to gel successfully. Not this season, anyway. Look for Bradley to be fired early and a lot of money spent on free agency after the Super Bowl. My sad prediction: 2-14.