Season Preview: AFC South

Jaguars

For years the AFC South has lacked excitement and quality. Few could have predicted that it would be the shining star of the conference this year. With the Jaguars incredible defence, they have a considerable chance to win the division. However, there are two teams who have the ability to put an end to the threat of Sacksonville – the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars clinched the South fairly easily last year. They were absolutely clinical on defence, led by the franchise corner, Jalen Ramsey. Furthermore, the pickups of Marcell Dareus, Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye were pivotal in making this defensive unit the most dangerous in the league. Luckily for the Jags, all of the stars on that defence remain on the roster.
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On the other hand, the Florida-based franchise lost a key receiver in Allen Robinson, who had been a reliable target in his first three years on the team, amassing 22 touchdowns in just 43 games. Also, Allen Hurns was traded to the Dallas Cowboys which further hampers the offence’s firepower.

Blake Bortles remains in the lineup as the starting quarterback. Coach Doug Marrone decided that Bortles was the best fit for the Jags to begin the 2018 season,  which has raised much concern. Many argue that Bortles is simply not good enough to lead the team to the promised land.

Houston Texans

This year’s Texans roster is similar to many of its predecessors, it’s absolutely stacked. However, injuries have always been an issue with this team. Regardless of that factor, the Texans are looking like a serious playoff contender this year.
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Unfortunately for the rest of the South, the Texans defence is arguably the best in the league, featuring three-time Defensive Player Of The Year, J.J. Watt, and Pro-Bowlers Tyrann Matthieu, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus.

On offence, the 12th round draft pick of last year, DeShaun Watson, will take centre stage again. Watson was superb before his injury and will be looking to pick up where he left off, after 19 passing touchdowns in just seven games last season. He’ll be joined by DeAndre Hopkins (a top 5 receiver), Lamar Miller and Will Fuller V. If this team can avoid injuries – which have been a persistent issue in recent years – they could be a genuine contender for a lengthy playoff run.

Tennessee Titans

The Titans, spearheaded by talented quarterback, Marcus Mariota, are a good side on both sides of the ball.

Firstly, the offence boasts one of the best tight ends in the league in Delaney Walker. The acquisition of Dion Lewis from the Patriots creates a formidable running back pairing with Derrick Henry.
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Defensively, Malcolm Butler, best known for his Super Bowl saving play, joins from the Patriots as well. Pro-Bowlers Jurrell Casey and Brian Orakpo provide leadership and experience on a young roster.

Indianapolis Colts

The Colts have struggled for awhile, and it looks like that might continue.

However, let’s start with the positives. Firstly, the Colts have retained explosive wide receiver, T.Y. Hilton, who has four Pro-Bowl appearances under his belt.

The organisation have taken a considerable leap forward by hiring Frank Reich, who was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles last year. In case you forgot, that team won the Super Bowl.
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Most importantly, quarterback Andrew Luck is healthy. This is a game-changer for the Colts, considering Luck is one of the best around, though his fitness remains a concern given his track record.

The offensive line still lacks solidity which has often been the case in Indiana. The defensive backfield is also a concern. This could’ve been improved on in the draft but Chris Ballard didn’t manage to do so.

About Greg Forbes 56 Articles
Greg is a follower of basketball, baseball, ice hockey and American football as well as several other sports. He reads and writes about a range of topics, while supporting the Steelers, Red Sox, Knicks and Blackhawks. Twitter: @red_scox