There's a sleeper team in the AFC South that some aren't taking lightly

The Houston Texans are the team to beat but one other team has caught everyone's eye.
Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans v Indianapolis Colts / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The Houston Texans are the reigning and defending AFC South champions. Their 10-7 campaign in 2023 saw many memorable moments enter the Texans zeitgeist, as well as the establishment of a new era. It's been so intense and abrupt, that no one is betting against them heading into the season. With the offseason the Texans had, plus most of their core players returning the Houston squad is looking to repeat.

Yet, one team seems to have caught the eye of several people, most notably Bleacher Report, who has seemingly pegged their preseason as the one to watch from the AFC South. That's not unexpected, as the Colts were one of three teams last year to finish with an above .500 record, alongside the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Texans.

Then-starting quarterback Gardner Minshew emerged from his backup role and nearly got them to the playoffs. He was rewarded with a Pro Bowl spot, and a one-way ticket to Las Vegas. See, Minshew committed the cardinal sin of out-playing an injured starter. Former first-round pick Anthony Richardson suffered an injury early into his rookie campaign, forcing Minshew to complete the 2023 season.

With Minshew, the Colts were a borderline playoff team, but without him, the Colts are an unknown commodity. That's why Bleacher Report is picking them, and not the Texans, as the team with the most interesting storyline from the AFC South. After all, the Texans just got better and are relatively drama-free. Their biggest question mark is about whether or not Stefon Diggs can prove his value at this point in his career.

The Texans can win without Diggs. The Colts, well they're going to need Richardson to not only be better than he was in his first four games of his career, but also better than Minshew was last season. If he can't put up Pro Bowl-worthy numbers, and Minshew leads the Las Vegas Raiders to the postseason, a lot of people are going to lose their jobs in Indianapolis.

After all, the Colts were one or two games away from the postseason last year. If one or two games break a little differently, it's the Colts that beat the Browns in the opening round, sending their team forward into an upward trajectory that the Texans ended up experiencing.

They didn't though, and their season was a case of "almost" and "what if". Richardson weights the world on his shoulders, and if he's going to succeed where Minshew failed, he's got to prove he's on par with Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud. Richardson knows he's got to be better, and he even said (half-hearted or not) that he has to win the MVP just to prove his value next to Stroud.

So while I think the Diggs storyline is going to be interesting, I do agree that the Colts have a much more pressing storyline. If Richardson fails, the Colts get sent back to the drawing board. A process that could take years to recover from. If Richardson succeeds, then the Colts become an unexpected powerhouse in 2024.

Which would be bad news for the Texans.