NFL Week 1 Predictions: How AFC South Will Look After Game 1
There is not a division in the NFL that has undergone such a shift in power like the AFC South.
For almost a complete decade, the Indianapolis Colts were the dominant team in the division. Since the division was formed for the start of the 2002 season, the Colts have won seven of the 10 division titles available. They also have made two appearances in the Super Bowl, winning once.
Two of the other division titles went to the Tennessee Titans. Unfortunately, other than making it to the AFC Championship Game in 2002, the Titans haven't had much playoff success.
The Houston Texans won their first division title and made their first playoff appearance last season. They return for the 2012 season as the favorites to once again to take the division.
The Jacksonville Jaguars round out the division as the team that no one ever really expects anything out of. They will try to overachieve this season.
In Week 1, three teams have some good opposition that could cause them a little trouble, while one will find a win hard to come by.
Here is how the AFC South will look coming out of Week 1.
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Opponent: Miami Dolphins
On talent alone, Houston should have no problem taking care of a team like Miami. The 2011 AFC South champs against a team that finished tied for last in the AFC East—definitely sounds like a game that could be a blowout in Houston's favor.
The question is whether Houston will be able to handle the pressure of being the favorite in its division for an entire season. If the Dolphins provide even a little bit of a challenge here, the news might not be good.
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Opponent: Chicago Bears
Andrew Luck's regular-season debut comes against one of the most prolific defenses in the NFL. Anyone who's expecting big things from Luck right out of the gate should reel their expectations in.
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Opponent: Minnesota Vikings
The Jacksonville Jaguars were a surprise team in the preseason, going 3-1. Now, being successful in the preseason doesn't mean you will be successful in the regular season, but for a team like the Jaguars, a preseason like that is to be applauded.
In Week 1, Jacksonville faces off against a team that is in a similar situation in Minnesota. Both teams have young, unproven quarterbacks and running backs that are considered to be among the league's best.
This one will be close.
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Opponent: New England Patriots
The Tennessee Titans get the unfortunate job of taking on the Patriots in Week 1. The last time the Titans faced off against the Patriots was in the 2009 season, when New England shut out Tennessee 59-0, the Titans' worst loss ever.
The Titans have a different roster now and are a better team than they were, but New England still has a huge edge.
Winner: New England
Standings After Week 1
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1. Houston Texans: 1-0
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: 1-0
3. Indianapolis Colts: 0-1
4. Tennessee Titans: 0-1
Of course, the standings won't stay this way. Houston should stay at the top for most of the season, while Jacksonville will need a miracle to stay in second place. Tennessee will not finish last, and Indianapolis will definitely finish in the bottom two.
This will be a fun division to watch this season.