Last season was a changing of the guard in the AFC South, with the Houston Texans finally reaching the postseason, and winning their first playoff game, topping the Bengals before losing in Baltimore.
This season there’s a lot of eyes on the Colts with rookie QB Andrew Luck, but there’s also a new starter in Tennessee with Jake Locker. The Jags are hoping to be better with a new coach in Mike Mularkey. Here’s our breakdown of the AFC South, along with what team (or teams) will make the postseason.
1. Houston (10-6) – Last season the Texans finally had it all going for them, no Peyton Manning, a solid offense, and enough depth when Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart got hurt to survive to get to the playoffs. With Arian Foster carrying the load, this is clearly the best team in the South, and their defense, which was very good a season ago, will be good enough again to win 10 games.
2. Tennessee (8-8) – Jake Locker is getting thrown in the fire as the new starting QB for the Titans, and while he hasn’t had a great preseason, he showed signs of how good he could be last season when given a chance. Kenny Britt’s health is a key issue, as is if Chris Johnson can rebound from a down year. The Titans will have a lot of young players on D – with seven projected starters have three years of experience or less. Health a huge key for this team.
3. Jacksonville (6-10) – The Jags will find out this season that long term Blaine Gabbert is not the answer at the QB spot. The bright spot on this team is the defense, as the club will return 10 of 11 starters on a defense that was 6th in the NFL in 2011. The teams starting offensive line is back, and that should help leading rusher Maurice Jones-Drew. Issues at QB, and a lot of youth won’t be enough to get to .500 this year.
4. Indianapolis (4-12) – Make no mistake, it will be a long year in Indy, but long term, this team is heading in the right direction. Andrew Luck and the Colts have a lot of look forward to, but this year will be much like Peyton Manning’s first, 3-13 with a lot of growing pains. Luck will get his share of hits, as the offensive line is a big concern. The Colts will get better as the season goes, it just won’t be pretty early for Luck and co.