Breaking Down the Buffalo Bills 2009 Schedule: Part Two, AFC South

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Breaking Down the Buffalo Bills 2009 Schedule: Part Two, AFC South
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Definition of Improvement:

1: the act or process of improving
2 a: the state of being improved ; especially : enhanced value or excellence b: an instance of such improvement : something that enhances value or excellence


Technically every year, all 32 teams in the NFL 'improve' because of Free Agency and the draft, but yet only 12 will make the playoffs and the other 20 teams will be looking ahead to next year—some with many holes to fill, others only a player or two away from taking that next step, and others wondering what went wrong believing they made the necessary moves to make the playoffs but didn't.

A common theme we've heard this off season from the media talking heads and 'expert' NFL analysts is that the Buffalo Bills have gotten better (at least in some areas), but so has the rest of the AFC East so that will negate the improvement on our end therefore we are destined to finish last place again for a 2nd consecutive season.

 

Were also led to believe we play two extremely difficult divisions from the AFC South and NFC South in 2009 considering both each sent two teams to the playoffs last year, and the worst team in the NFC South finished 8-8.

Of course all of this could end up being true, or it could end up being false. But that's why they will line up and play the games this fall.

So I've decided to break down all the teams on the Buffalo Bills 2009 schedule and take a look at who really improved, who will maintain the status quo, and who took a step backwards.

Here is the second installment in which I’m taking an in depth look at the AFC South:


1) Tennessee Titans

 

2008 Results: 13-3, AFC South Champion, No. 1 seed, second round loss to Baltimore

Key Additions:Kenny Britt, Jared Cook, Jovan Haye, Nate Washington, Patrick Ramsey, Demarcus Faggins
Key Losses:Albert Haynseworth, Tyrone Poole, Renaldo Hill, Justin McCareins, Brandon Jones

Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?
Hard to believe they will improve given the fact they lost their best defensive player who was the key to making it all work. Offensively their goal is to improve the passing game with several new weapons, but do they have the right QB to pull the trigger?

Kerry Collins might not have much left in the tank and Vince Young seems to be more concerned with throwing dollars bills (i.e. ‘making it rain’) in Vegas night clubs than throwing NFL passes.

Still have questions about:DT, secondary, QB, Oline Depth, new defensive coordinator

The key to their season:Jeff Fisher and whether or not he can make up for the loss of Haynseworth and Chuck Cecil also has big shoes to fill as the new defensive coordinator. If the defensive falls off, they are going to have to rely on the offense to step up big time, if not mediocrity (and plenty of losses) will come crashing to earth in Nashville.


Best Case Scenario:10-12 wins, AFCS title/ wild card, deep playoff run
Worst Case Scenario: 5-9 wins, no playoffs
What I expect: 9-7, no playoffs

 


2) Indianapolis Colts

 

2008 Results:12-4, No. 2 in AFCS, fifth seed in AFC playoffs, first round loss @ SD

Key Additions:Donald Brown, Fili Moala,
Key Losses:Marvin Harrison, Dominick Rhodes, Hunter Smith, Tony Dungy and offensive coaching staff.

Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?
If there was a true definition of ‘status quo’, this team fits that bill, but when you’re a perennial fixture in the postseason that will appease most people affiliated with the Colts organization.

Some will say they have gotten worse simply because of the loss of Dungy and the dinosaurs that comprised his offensive coaching staff but having one of the best QB’s in NFL history probably offsets that.

Manning has likely peaked as a QB but he’s going to have his work cut out for him as this team is no longer a lock to make the playoffs. And considering they’ve made the tourney eight straight years, at some point the well will run dry.

Still have questions about:Coaching, WR depth, DT, DB

The key to their season:  Peyton Manning will basically have to assume the role of offensive coordinator/head coach/messiah/etc in 2009 and carry this team, which is not out of question given the caliber of player he is.

But regardless of the outcome this will be a critical year for the Colts and new head coach Jim Caldwell could be on the hot seat early if this team falters.

 

Best Case Scenario:10-12 wins, AFCS Title/ Wild card, deep playoff run

Worst Case Scenario:  6-9 wins, no playoffs

What I expect: 8-8, no playoffs

 


3) Houston Texans

 

2008 Results: 8-8, third place AFCS, no playoffs

Key Additions:Brian Cushing, Conner Barwin, Antonio Smith, Dan Orlovsky, Shaun Dody, Cato June
Key Losses:Morlen Greenwood, Ahman Green, Anthony Weaver, Will Demps, Ephraim Salaam, Sage Rosenfels, Demarcus Faggins


Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?
Many pundits believe that this is the year the Texans breakthrough and I’m officially jumping on that bandwagon. They have a very talented offense, and like the Bills have a solid young QB whose Achilles heel is staying healthy for the entire season.

Andre Johnson might be the most underrated and overlooked player in the NFL and Owen Daniels could be the next Tony Gonzalez. The addition of Smith, Barwin and Cushing combined with the emergence of key young defensive play makers should be enough for them to be a Cinderella story in 2009 and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.


Still have questions about:back up QB, oline, LB, Secondary.


The key to their season:  Matt Schaub staying healthy and if all the defensive pieces come together to finally slay the dragon that is the Indianapolis Colts.

 

Best Case Scenario:10-12 wins, AFCS Title/ Wild card, deep playoff run

Worst Case Scenario:  5-9 wins, no playoffs

What I expect:10-6, AFCS title, third or fourth seed.


4) Jacksonville Jaguars

 

2008 Results: 5-11, fourth place AFCS, No playoffs

Key Additions:Eugene Monroe, Eben Britton, Sean Considine, Tra Thomas, Tory Holt, Todd Bouman
Key Losses:Fred Taylor, Matt Jones, Drayton Florence, Mike Peterson, Khalif Barnes, Reggie Williams, Brad Meester, Paul Spicer, Chris Naole


Have they improved from 2008 to 2009?
After a letdown 2008 season, the recipe was simple: overhaul the roster and address the key areas of need which were WR and offensive line. Missionaccomplished (at least on paper), and I do see the Jags as a potential bounce back team in 2009 as they’ve improved their offensive line immensely.

But natural attrition in other areas may offset any offensive line improvements. Their front seven isn’t what it used to be since trading Marcus Stroud to the Bills, and their once promising secondary was burned frequently last year as a result.

Still have questions about:DT, RB depth, QB, TE, LB, WR depth

The key to their season:  Will the real David Garrad please stand up? The question still remains whether he is a back up QB or legit NFL starter. If he can recapture the magic from the 2007 season than I believe this could be a wild card team but many things will have to happen for that to manifest itself on the field.

Because if it don’t Delrio will likely be gone after the season and this team will likely be blown up, which unfortunately might be the most plausible scenario at this point because their division is loaded and their 2009 schedule isn’t exactly user friendly.

 

Best Case Scenario:9-11 wins, AFCS Title/ Wild card, deep playoff run

Worst Case Scenario:  4-8 wins, no playoffs

What I expect: 9-7, no playoffs

 

As always, feel free to critique, discuss, flame and offer your own analysis/insight...

Coming soon, part three: NFC South breakdown...

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