Saturday, August 1, 2009

AFC South Predictions

Today we take a look at the AFC South

1. Indianapolis Colts 12-4

The Indianapolis Colts remain pretty unchanged on the field minus Marvin Harrison. A move which surprised a lot of people but needed to be done. In 2007 and 2008 combined Harrison played in only 20 games and totaled 80 receptions for 883 yards. In 2006 alone he had 95 catches for 1,366 yards so his production is clearly dropping. The biggest change to the Colts however is the remodeled coaching staff. The Colts were forced to find a new offensive coordinator after long time coach Tom Moore retired this offseason. Moore has been the only coordinator Peyton Manning has ever played for in the NFL and many believe Moore has been a big part of Peyton's success. I do not however believe Clyde Christensen stepping in as the new offensive coordinator will have as large of an effect as some people may think. One thing about Peyton is that he calls his own plays. Moore would send in a set of 3 to 4 plays and Peyton would choose which one to run. Plus we all know Peyton is great at reading defenses and calling audibles. So even with a new OC, their primary signal caller remains the same. We do however have to take into account Tony Dungy has retired and this will be the first season under new head coach Jim Caldwell. Caldwell has been with the team since 2002 and many people on the team are fond of him so the transition should be easy. To top it all off let's not forget that this is a team that has not won less than 10 games since 2001. Looks like another division title for the Colts.

2. Tennessee Titans 11-5
The Tennessee Titans finished last season with the best record in the NFL at 13-3. I do not believe they will be able to repeat that performance. The fact remains that Kerry Collins is very reliable at the quarterback position but is not exactly a game changer. The Titans will still have a good team and post a good record however not quite as good as last years. Plus this is a team that lost Albert Haynesworth on the defensive line who had a monstrous season last year. The Titans will still have success in the running game and play good defense. Running back Chris Johnson seems to be a star in the making rushing for 1,228 yards last year in his rookie campaign. I expect decreased performances from the d-line and the qb positions which is why I believe they deserve a 2 game knock compared to last years record.

3. Houston Texans 9-7
The Texans have in my opinion the best WR in the NFL right now and his name is Andre Johnson. And if you disagree let's look at some facts: Last year Johnson led the NFL regular season in both receptions and yards with 115 receptions for 1,575 yards. And johnson did all this with Matt Schaub as his quarterback (and some Sage Rosenfels). The Schaub to Johnson combination will return strong this year to give the Texans a winning season. Look also for increased performance from 2nd year running back and former West Virginia star Steve Slaton who posted 1,282 yards rushing in his rookie year. The Texans offense finished 3rd in the NFL in yards per game last year yet ranked only 17th in points and are looking to improve on that mark this season. Their defense has been steadily improving since the controversial Mario Williams over Reggie Bush pick which all of a sudden looks genius as Williams had 12 sacks last year. Demeco Ryans has been playing great and promises to be an anchor of the defense in his 4th season. Also this team added hard nosed USC linebacker Brian Cushing in the draft with the 15th overall pick. If this defense can step up a bit more and Johnson can continue to play at a high level we may see an even higher win total here.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars 6-10
The Jaguars last season were a disappointing team as many expected more out of them. I believe a big part of that comes from the expectation that the Jaguars would have a very strong running game with Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones Drew. However neither managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and now Fred Taylor is no longer with the team. The Jags lost tackle Khalif Barnes in free agency but were able to pick up a very good tackle prospect in Eugene Monroe through the draft. The team also added long time Rams receiver Torry Holt signing him to a 3 year deal with hopes that he will become a main target for David Garrard. Overall I think how the season goes for the Jaguars is heavily dependent on the way Garrard plays. If he can manage to take more pressure off of Maurice Jones Drew which I believe he can this team may win more games. They must also improve their defense especially the pass defense which allowed 224.1 yards per game and ranked 24th in the league. Overall they will be decent, but not to much better than last year.

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