AFC South Preview

Jonathan Charron

Sports Blogger

@theozoneonline

With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts should waltz to an AFC South title this season. (Chris Conger, Flickr)

With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Colts should waltz to an AFC South title this season.
(Chris Conger, Flickr)

Indianaplolis Colts

The Colts brought in running back Frank Gore and receiver Andre Johnson as the missing pieces to help them make a Super Bowl run last season. However, Johnson finished with only 41 catches, and Gore failed to crack 1,000 yards on the ground for only the third time in his 11-season career. On top of that, quarterback Andrew Luck played in only seven games because of injuries.

If Luck plays a full season, Indianapolis should be back on top of the AFC South. The Colts lost Coby Fleener to New Orleans, but Dwayne Allen should now be the featured tight end. Top receiver T.Y. Hilton will join second-year man Phillip Doresett, who should help open up the field for Gore with his speed.

With a favorable schedule, the Colts should be able to pull out 10 wins in the uncompetitive AFC South.

Houston Texans

Without a quarterback last season, the Texans were able to come out on top of the AFC South. Now, Houston has Brock Osweiler and also added rookies Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to a receiving corps that already has DeAndre Hopkins and Jalen Strong. However, I’m not completely sold on Osweiler yet and feel that he will need a full year of growing pains to become a solid starting quarterback. Remember, even Aaron Rodgers struggled in his first year as a starter.

Reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt returns with a top 10 defense. However, with the struggles at quarterback and the running game, Houston will drop a few games in the win column.

Tennessee Titans

Tennessee had the 25th best running game last season. However, the Titans made major upgrades in the backfield department. Veteran DeMarco Murray and Heisman-winner Derrick Henry will headline the tailback committee. The Titans also added Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin with the team’s first round draft pick..

In his second year as a starter, quarterback Marcus Mariota will have a solid running game to help out, something he didn’t have in his rookie season. The Titans also added veteran receiver Andre Johnson to the mix and picked up Rishard Matthews from Miami to go along with Kendall Wright and Justin Hunter. Tight end Delanie Walker, who was Mariota’s favorite receiver last season, also returns.

Defensively, the Titans were average at best last season, giving up 26 points per game. On a good note, they were ranked 7th in pass defense and hope to improve on their run defense, which finished 18th.

Schedule-wise, Tennessee gets the NFC North and the AFC West, putting them in a position where they most likely will not win many games.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville made some noise in the offseason, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Jaguars picked up Malik Jackson from Denver and Prince Amukamara from the Giants, and six out of their first seven picks in the draft were defensive players. Top pick Jalen Ramsey was expected to come in immediately and be a starter in the secondary, but with his season ending injury, they will expect a lot out of Davon House and Amukamara at corner back. As of now, second round pick Myles Jack will play behind Paul Posluszny, but he will have a chance to quickly emerge as a starter. Jack was slated by many to be a top 10 pick before his injury at UCLA.

Offensively, the Jaguars have promise with Blake Bortles at quarterback and Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns at receiver. Jacksonville picked up Chris Ivory as well to tag team with T.J. Yeldon in the backfield.

Unfortunately though, the Jaguars will have a tough non-division schedule. Jacksonville has home games against Green Bay, Oakland, Denver and Baltimore, but could easily lose all of those.

ozone@ocolly.com

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