With our AFC North and NFC South division in the books, we are now going to take a look at the AFC South. The AFC South is quite possibly the most unpredictable division this season. The Jacksonville Jaguars took the division last season and made it all the way to the AFC Championship game where they eventually lost at the hands of the New England Patriots. There are a few more roadblocks standing in the Jaguars way this year.
Indianapolis Colts (3-13):
The Colts may or may not have quarterback Andrew Luck for the start of the 2018 season. Even if he does play, we haven’t seen him complete a pass in two years. We believe that this will be another rebuilding year, regardless if Andrew Luck is the quarterback. If you look around the Colts depth chart, not very many players jump off the page as being playmakers. The 2018 Colts will feature wide receiver TY Hilton and tight end Eric Ebron on offense. The running back position looks to be a committee approach with Marlon Mack, rookie Nyheim Hines, and rookie Jordan Wilkins.
Defensively, the Colts aren’t sporting many big names either. They lost their best cornerback, Vontae Davis, who signed with the Buffalo Bills. At free safety, the Colts have 2017 first round pick Malik Hooker, who will definitely make his presence felt. The three games the Colts will win are week 6 against the New York Jets, week 7 against the Buffalo Bills, and week 12 against the Miami Dolphins.
Tennessee Titans (6-10):
The Titans finished 9-7 last season. I predict them falling a bit in 2018; not because of their talent, but because of the talent of the divisional rivals. The Jacksonville Jaguars have placed their name on top of the AFC South. The Houston Texans are also coming into 2018 fully healthy. Adding to their divisional schedule, the Titans also have a rough stretch in weeks six through ten. In that stretch, the Titans play the Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, and the New England Patriots.
Offensively, the Titans will revolve around QB Marcus Mariota. Mariota has proven to be a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators due to his dual-threat capabilities. In 2017, Mariota had a worrisome year, throwing for 3232 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. To put this in contrast, his 2016 season he threw for 3426 yards, 26 touchdowns, and a much more respectable nine interceptions. The Titans desperately need Mariota to return to his 2016 form.
Defensively, the Titans are in much better shape. There are playmakers all over the field: defensive tackle Jurrell Caslinebackerskers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo, and breakout candidate cornerback Adoree Jackson. Adding to the defensive efforts is Superbowl 49 hero and former undrafted free agent cornerback Malcom Butler.
The 2018 Titans have the defense capable to win the division, but offensively, they leave much to be desired.
Houston Texans (10-6):
In 2017, the Houston Texans finished with a 4-12 record. In 2018, they will more than double their win total. Last season the Texans were the victims of the injury bug. The team lost all pro defensive end JJ Watt in week 5 to a broken leg. Three weeks later, they lost rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson to a torn ACL. The Texans lost their two most important players right in the middle of the season. To put Watson’s importance to this team into perspective, he played in eight games, and amassed 1699 yards, 19 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Prior to the injury, Watson was a favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year.
It is a new year though. Watson and Watt have looked great in the limited activities they’ve been in. Outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is looking to improve on his 9.5 sacks last year, and will play a vital role in the defense. Offensively, the Texans have a great duo at wide receiver with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
Week 1, the Texans will have a chance to start their new season against the AFC Champion New England Patriots.
Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5):
Last season, the Jaguars finished 10-6 and made it to the AFC Championship game. This team shocked the NFL with their lock-down defense and smash mouth running game. On October 8th, 2017, the Jaguars embarrassed the Pittsburgh Steelers in their own home by intercepting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times, in route to a 30-9 victory. They also had an amazing season without the likes of all pro wide receiver Allen Robinson. The 2017 Jaguars introduced pro bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, running back Leonard Fournette, guard Andrew Norwell, and defensive end Calais Campbell.
Notably for 2018, the Jaguars added much needed tight end threat Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and first round pick defensive tackle Taven Bryan.
We fully expect the Jaguars to come out on top in 2018. This team is just too good defensively. Ramsey may very well be the best cornerback in the league. Trap game spoiler: The Jaguars do need to watch out in week 12 when they visit the Buffalo Bills. The Bills aren’t much to talk about, although, last year in the wildcard game, the Jaguars narrowly beat the Bills 10-3.
All things considered, 2018 looks to be very exciting if you’re an AFC South fan. The Texans and Jaguars will look to build a heated rivalry. In 2018, however, the Jaguars will come out on top.
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