Let’s take a look at the AFC South division now, which has been owned by the Colts for years when Manning was the QB. With Manning departing to Denver, Jaguars & Colts in rebuilding mode and Titans on the rise there is only one team to beat in the South, and that is the Houston Texans. When Wade Phillips arrived to be the defensive-coordinator I knew this personnel was going to take off as they had the pieces to fit. Most may agree that this could be the year of the Texans, barring any injury it could happen.
TEXANS : Most might be surprised by the 12 wins I’m giving the Texans, but that’s just how good I believe they are. Schaub is a decent enough of a QB to lead this team, he too just has to stay healthy. They have the rushing attack with Foster & Tate, an elite WR in Andre Johnson (who needs to avoid injury) and one of the best defenses in the NFL. The lost of Mario Williams & Demeco Ryans will not hurt them as Watt is developing into an all-pro DE, a solid LB corps led by Brian Cushings and rising sophomore sensation Brooks Reed, the secondary is solid with Joseph leading the way. One of their biggest games comes in week 14 at New England, and I have them winning that game. Texans have a strong shot to reach the Super Bowl and they are my Super Bowl pick to represent the AFC in 2012.
TITANS : Titans play a very tough schedule, especially to start the season. One reason why I think they’ll finish no better than 8-8. Anything can happen though, if Chris Johnson say’s he’s back to old-self then this offense can take off, which also pertains to Kenny Britt who, prior to his knee injury, was on the verge of a great season. There’s a QB Battle in Training Camp that will probably have Hasselback starting the first handful of games then the Locker Era begins. Too much good young talent on this roster that will be scratching the surface in 2012. The defense is young, especially at LB, but they’ll hold their own. Sound tackler Colin McCarthy leading the way at MLB and Derrick Morgan ready to breakout at the DE spot, secondary will be solid even with Finnegan departed. I give the Titans one more year before they take off, and with games @GBP @SDC vsCHI vsPIT @BUF vsNEP vsDET they’ll get tested early and the late games against Texans and Packers will be the ones that hurt their playoff chances.
COLTS : Never imagined the day would’ve come when Peyton Manning wasn’t dawning a Colts jersey, after a disasterous 2011 season the Colts look to start fresh and rebuild, enter Andrew Luck. Luck isn’t no savior but he’s the best QB prospect in years and he can and will lead this Colts teams to victories in his rookie campaign. There will be a struggle as he learns and fans have to realize that, there are young players at each offensive position with the help of veteran Reggie Wayne. The biggest issue for the Colts is once again their defense, who I don’t see stopping anybody in 2012. Opposing RB’s salivated when they see INDY on their schedule because they know they could put up monster numbers, same can be said for 2012. Defensively they’re switching to a 3-4, and it’ll take about a year for them to learn it fully. Colts are building the right way, thru a franchise QB, fans will have to endure a few losing seasons before primetime once again.
JAGUARS: with MJD and Blackmon holding out, Laurent Robinson not grasping the offense (not surprised) the Jaguars are in for a very long season. Yes, their defense is stout but it won’t hold for many games especially if the offense can’t score any points. Jaguars have a tough schedule with games against the Packers and Lions to mention, from weeks 2-9 I have them on a 7 game losing streak because I don’t see them beating the Texans, Colts, Bengals, Bears, Raiders, Packers and Lions in that stretch. I do like the defense though, with Poz leading the middle, development of rookie Andre Branch on the end with Jeremey Mincey (who is a solid DE) and possibility of seeing Mathis back and healthy at the CB spot. Growing pains for sure, Gabbert has to grow up and fast, Rashad Jennings will pay dividends when MJD is out but that’s about it.