Whether the Texans are the best team in the AFC is arguable but they are without question the cream of the crop in the AFC South. The Jaguars, Titans and Colts have quarterbacks with a combined one full year’s worth of NFL starts. All three were top ten draft picks and Luck obviously went number one last year but not everyone can come in and have immediate success and that is the the reason the Texans could go 8-8 and win the division this year.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 3-13
The Jaguars are horrible. I had originally had them at 4-12 but they lost in week one to the Vikings who used their best player sparingly and have almost no defensive presence whatsoever.
Their offense is offensive. If Blaine Gabbert can be mediocre as opposed to the disaster of a first-round pick he was last year they might rack up more yards than their NFL-worst 259 per game last year.
Maurice Jones-Drew is still one of the best backs in the league but he’s disgruntled, underpaid, and unconditioned which leads to injuries. If Marcedes Lewis bounces back from his sub-par post contract extension season, he will more than likely be Gabbert’s number one option on most plays because Laurent Robinson appears to be a product of the Cowboys offense as he was completely silent in the preseason and Justin Blackmon is as unhappy as Maurice Jones-Drew.
The Defense may be better than average but they did let Adrian Peterson, playing on a bum knee, score two touchdowns and allow Christian Ponder to complete over 74% of his passes for 270 yards.
The Jaguars are the worst team in this division and after that loss to the Vikings may in fact be the worst team in the NFL.
Indianapolis Colts: 6-10
The Colts are “rebuilding,” which Texans fans know, if done wrong could lead to years of ineptitude. However, the Colts took a step in the right direction by getting their franchise quarterback who, despite turning the ball over four times against a stingy Bears defense on Sunday, will lead them to prosperity again.
Along with getting their quarterback, they got him something they never did for Peyton: weapons. In the draft the Colts spent five of the six picks after Luck on offensive skill players, one of which being Luck’s favorite target from Stanford, Coby Fleeener.
While you can look at the Colts future and say it may be bright in a few years, their present is bleak. Their defense lacks any sort of playmaking ability outside of their aging pass rushers in Mathis and Freeney. Not only that, their running game is bad, their offensive line is worse and their wide receiver’s are unproven outside of Reggie Wayne.
Finally, for a team that is said to be rebuilding it is nice to pick up young players that can help you now and in the long run at a good price. While the Colts are still high on former first-round pick by the Miami Dolphins, Vontae Davis, I would argue that a second round pick is one of the highest forms of currency in the NFL and that price was too steep for an unproven cornerback.
Tennessee Titans: 7-9
The Tennessee Titans appear to be the Texans biggest competitors this year.
Chris Johnson should be back to CJ2K form as opposed to last years uninspired performance after receiving his hefty contract extension. Jake Locker appeared to be a capable starting quarterback last year and during the preseason this year especially after receiving the tutelage of Matthew Hasselbeck.
The Titans also have some playmakers at the receiver and tight end position, even after Nate Washington went down on Sunday. Kenny Britt has proven that he can be a number one, Kendall Wright has the ability to take the top off the defense and Jared Cook has sure hands and isn’t afraid to go over the middle.
The defense has some obvious question marks as they were torched on Sunday by the Patriots, but not necessarily by Tom Brady who put up pedestrian passing numbers. They allowed Stevan Ridley to have 125 yards which is something that Maurice Jones-Drew, and Arian Foster must be salivating over.
The unfortunate thing for the Titans is that the AFC South has drawn a very difficult schedule this year and while they will get to play the likes of the Jaguars twice, they will also have to play Andrew Luck and the Colts later in the season once he has begun building chemistry with his receivers.
While the AFC South may be one of the best divisions in the NFL again in a few years, for now, the Texans are the only team that would scare anyone else in the league.