Houston Texans: 2015 record: 9-7
2016 Projected Record: 9-7
Key Additions: Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller, Will Fuller (draft)
Key Losses: Arian Foster, Garret Graham, Rahim Moore
The offense of the Texans is going to look a lot different this year. Of course with the addition of Osweiler they’re hoping he brings them improved QB play for a team that struggled with Brian Hoyer & Ryan Mallett at the helm. They also drafted Will Fuller to take some coverage off of Deandre Hopkins and they’re hoping Jaelen Strong can improve on last year.
The running game should be improved with the signing of Lamar Miller. In Miami Lamar Miller wasn’t given enough touches to showcase his talents in my opinion. In his 4 years in Miami Miller got only 200 carries in 1 year and in that year he got 1,099 yards. He’s also a great receiving threat out of the backfield catching 30+ passes 2 out of the 4 years in Miami. The offense should be much improved from last year.
Their defense looked great to finish the season last year. After giving up a whopping 44 points to the Dolphins in week 7 last year the Texans only allowed 12.67 points per game in their final 9 games. With J.J Watt leading the way your pass rush is going to be elite but the Texans really need Jadeveon Clowney to show he was worth the 1st round pick from 2 years ago. In 2 years with the Texans he’s only had 4.5 sacks all coming in 2015.
Last year Whitney Mercilus looked very good coming off the edge while getting 12 sacks in 2015. The Texans still have Brian Cushing in the middle to anchor the linebackers and hopefully he can stay healthy like he did last year playing in all 16 games. The secondary for the Texans isn’t too bad with Johnathan Joseph & Kareem Jackson at the corner positions while Quintin Demps & Andre Hal sure up the back end. Hal last year had 4 INTs & 10 deflections in his 2nd year. I wanted to give the Texans double digit wins but with an improved division plus Andrew Luck coming back I see another 9-7 year.
Indianapolis Colts: 2015 Record:8-8
2016 Projected Record: 8-8
Key Additions: Antonio Cromartie, Patrick Robinson, Ryan Kelly (draft)
Key Losses: Coby Fleener, Andre Johnson, Bjoern Werner
The Colts offenses should be back to scoring an abundance of points with Andrew Luck back healthy this year. With the emergence of Donte Moncrief last year Luck has plenty of targets to go to. The Colts chose to keep Dwayne Allen instead of Coby Fleener this offseason so hopefully he can produce like he did in 2014 with 8 TDs. The offensive line has to protect Luck because they need Luck healthy.
The Colts are still moving forward with Frank Gore as RB who is not as good as he used to be but he is still very reliable. Gore in his 11 year career has only missed 12 games & has not missed a game in the last 5 years. Gore had his lowest YPC average last year with 3.7 & I see that improving this year with Luck back & an improved offensive line.
The Colts are another team that offensively they look elite but you see their defense & say “oh that’s why they haven’t been able to go too far”. The D-Line is still led by Robert Mathis & Trent Cole but neither of them are getting any younger. Mathis started in 10 games last year & had 7 sacks which is tied for the 2nd worst year in his career. Cole on the other hand started in only 5 games & had only 3 sacks. The linebackers are the strong point of the defense with D’Qwell Jackson & Sio Moore in the middle.
The Colts’ secondary has a lot to be desired. Vontae Davis got injured the other week in practice & is expected to be out at least the first month of the season. The Colts didn’t waste any time in signing Antonio Cromartie even though last year he showed signs he might be declining with having no interceptions for the first time since his rookie season. The Colts also went out & signed Patrick Robinson this offseason but he’s struggled to find his role as a CB. The Colts have a top 5 offense but their defense holds them back from being a playoff team for me.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 2015 Record: 5-11
2016 Projected Record: 10-6
Key Additions: Chris Ivory, Malik Jackson, Prince Amukamara, Jalen Ramsey (draft), Myles Jack (draft)
Key Losses: Stefen Wisniewski
Call me crazy but I see Jacksonville as the best team on paper in the AFC South. Games aren’t decided on paper though so I could be wrong about this. The Jaguars had to have liked the way Blake Bortles played last year. He went from 11 TDs & 17 INTs in his rookie year to 35 TDs & 18 INTs last year. Having WRs like Allen Robinson & Allen Hurns helps but you could see Bortles just look more comfortable in the offense. Bortles has also been the most sacked QB in the last 2 years with 55 sacks in 2014 & 51 last year.
The Jaguars had one of the best offseasons & part of that was the signing of Chris Ivory. The Jaguars already had a good RB in T.J Yeldon but it never hurts to have a great 1-2 punch in the NFL. Yeldon only played in 12 games last year but rushed for 740 yards on 182 carries while also catching 36 receptions for 279 yards. Ivory last year got 200+ carries for the first time in his career and he ended up being the 5th leading rusher with 1,070 yards. I see a big improvement in the Jaguars’ offense hopefully they can protect Bortles a little better (it’d be hard not to).
On defense the Jaguars finally get to see their 2015 first round pick Dante Fowler play after missing the whole 2015 season with injury. The Jaguars also went out & signed the super bowl winning DT in Malik Jackson to sure up the front 7. The Jaguar’s linebackers are a pretty solid group with Telvin Smith, Paul Posluszny, & Dan Skuta. Telvin Smith has had 100+ tackles & 1 INT in each of his first 2 years.
The secondary is where the Jaguars seem majorly improved. Last year Davon House easily had his best year in his career with 60 tackles & 4 INTS. Then the Jaguars picked up Prince Amukamara who when healthy is a pretty solid corner. Amukamara has only played all 16 games in a season once in his 5 year career. Of course the Jaguars also drafted Jalen Ramsey in the 1st Round. Ramsey has the potential to be a shutdown corner in the NFL. Again I might be insane in predicting the Jaguars as the winners of the AFC South but I love the team they have put together.
Tennessee Titans: 2015 Record: 3-13
2016 Projected Record: 6-10
Key Additions: Demarco Murray, Rishard Matthews, Jack Conklin (draft), Rashad Johnson
Key Losses: Coty Sensabaugh
The Titans are a very interesting team to look at. Of course we are going into Marcus Mariota’s 2nd season at QB. His rookie year was alright but I was most impressed with his legs more so than his arm. He only threw 2,818 yards with 19 TDs & 1o INTs while running for 252 yards & 2 TDs in 12 games last year. I see him improving but he doesn’t have a lot of weapons to throw to. The Titans signed Rishard Matthews who I like as a 2nd receiver but the Titans then went on to trade Dorial Green Beckham to the Eagles which was a head scratching move to me but maybe that’s why I’m sitting on a couch writing this while they’re running a NFL team.
The Titans definitely improved their backfield from last year though with the additions of Demarco Murray & Derrick Henry. Now I don’t know how that duo will work together since they’re both north-south runners but they got to be better than last year right? The Titans last year were the 8th worst rush offense in the league & I see them being better especially if Mariota can play the whole season.
The defensive line of the Titans is very average with the likes of Al Woods & Daquan Jones with the bright spot being Jurrell Casey. Casey last year had 7 sacks & made the Pro Bowl. The linebackers are definitely solid with Derrick Morgan, Wesley Woodyard, and Brian Orakpo. The Titans were surprisingly 12th in the NFL last year in team sacks with 39.
The secondary of the Titans definitely looks improved with who they added this offseason. They added Rashad Johnson at safety from the Cardinals (anyone from the Cardinals secondary right now is great). In 2015 Johnson had 61 tackles & 5 INTs. The Titans also added Antwon Blake & Brice McCain from the Steelers (because of Dick Lebeau). The Titans have a good young team but I still see a 5-6 win season from them.
Final Prediction: The Jaguars go 10-6 & win division. Yes the Jaguars make the playoffs.
The next division I will be covering is the AFC West.