2014 NFL Preview Series: AFC South

Demarus Dye| BKD TV Insiders

The Colts are trying to repeat as division champs, while the Titans, Texans & Jaguars are trying to rebuild & win on the run.

The Colts are trying to repeat as division champs, while the Titans, Texans & Jaguars are trying to rebuild & win this season.

The next division to preview is the AFC South. The Colts ran away with the division a season ago, can they repeat? Can the Titans, Texans & Jaguars who are in rebuilding mode catch fire & challenge the Colts in the AFC South? Lets take a look:

Indianapolis Colts

2013 Record: 11-5, first place in AFC South. Lost in AFC Divisional Round
Head coach: Chuck Pagano
Key departures: RB Donald Brown, FS Antoine Bethea, OT Jeff Linkenbach, LB Kavell Conner, G Mike McGlynn, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, CB Cassius Vaughn
Key arrivals: DL Arthur Jones, WR Hakeem Nicks, LB D’Qwell Jackson

The Colts, I think they are ready to join the Broncos & Patriots in the top of the AFC standings. What doesn’t help them is a suspended Robert Mathis for 4 games & the AFC South on paper is the weakest division in the NFL. Who will be the top guy running the ball for the Colts? Indianapolis is averaging 3.5 yards a carry as a team in the preseason while also dealing with injuries at center and right guard in the preseason. Starting center Khaled Holmes has missed the past two games with an ankle injury and guard Jack Mewhort missed a game with a knee issue. Not Good if you are the Colts as RB’s Trent Richardson, Ahmad Bradshaw & Daniel Herron have to step it up. How will Reggie Wayne look after his injury? I think defensively the Colts will be good & we will see early if the Colts are ready to take the next step as the Colts take on former Colts QB Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos Week 1. I like the Colts to once again run away with the AFC South.

Tennessee Titans,

2013: 7-9, 2nd in AFC South
Head coach: Ken Whisenhunt
Key departures: RB Chris Johnson, CB Alterraun Verner, OT David Stewart, PK Rob Bironas, WR Kenny Britt
Key arrivals: LB Wesley Woodyard, OT Michael Oher, LB Shaun Phillips, RB/PR Dexter McCluster, RB Bishop Sankey, OT Taylor Lewan

The Titans were a 7-9 team last season & to me they look like that again, but the Titans Defense will keep them in football games this fall with pickups at Linebacker with Wesley Woodyard & Shaun Phillips. On offense the Titans look like the worst team in the AFC South, I don’t like Jake Locker as a starting QB, outside of Nate Washington, the WR’s are not great, the OL looks average to me as well. Along with TE & RB, the Titans special teams can also keep them in games with Leon Washington as returner, but minus long time kicker Rob Bironas & going with Rookie Travis Coon. I could see the Titans in 2nd or in 4th place, but I’ll say 3rd will be the Titans home for 2014.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2013: 4-12, third in AFC South
Head coach: Gus Bradley
Key departures: RB Maurice Jones-Drew, QB Blaine Gabbert, C Brad Meester, DE Jason Babin, LB Russell Allen
Key arrivals: Rookie QB Blake Bortles, RB Toby Gerhart, G Zane Beadles, DE Red Bryant, DE Chris Clemons, DT Ziggy Hood, LB Dekoda Watson

This has been a slow rebuilding process for the Jaguars. That process has been reset a couple of times, but rookie QB Blake Bortles has impressed me very much, but the skill players around him are not good & it looks like Chad Henne will be the starting QB. The Jags should win more than 4 games, but still a season away for really doing something within the division.

Houston Texans

2013 Record: 2-14, Fourth in AFC South
Head coach: Bill O’Brien, First Year
Key departures: QB Matt Schaub, TE Owen Daniels, RB Ben Tate, DT Earl Mitchell, DE Antonio Smith, S Danieal Manning, CB Brice McCain, LB Darryl Sharpton, LB Joe Mays, QB T.J. Yates
Key arrivals: Rookie LB Jadeveon Clowney, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, S Kendrick Lewis, DT Jerrell Powe, Rookie NT Louis Nix III

The Texans had a terrible season last year & cleaned house. The team of JJ Watt & Jadeveon Clowney on the defensively  line will be dangerous & the Texans offense will still be good. Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the key to keeping the Texans in the playoff race. I like the Texans to get to 8 wins this season.

Predicted Order of Finish

1. Indianapolis Colts

2. Houston Texans

3. Tennessee Titans

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

I’ll be back later for the NFC South.

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