AFC South Preview: Will It Be the Indianapolis Colts Again?

Samantha Cooke@sportycookieCorrespondent ISeptember 9, 2009

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 28: Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Indianapolis Colts drops back to pass the football against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on August 28, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)

Last year, the AFC South sent two teams to the playoffs. Both teams had at least 12 wins. The Tennessee Titans won the division with the Indianapolis Colts close behind.

The Titans lost at home to the Baltimore Ravens after having a bye. The Colts lost on the road to the San Diego Chargers.

The AFC South is a wide-open division. Anyone can win. This will be a tight race.

Will the division flip around this year? Who will win the division? Here are the predictions.

4. Houston Texans: The Texans return one of the best receivers in the league in Andre Johnson. They still have Matt Schaub as quarterback throwing to Johnson. Unfortunately, Johnson cannot win games by himself.

Steve Slaton will be a dynamic back for the Texans. He can run, block, and catch out of the backfield. This will help take pressure off Schaub.

As for their defense, the Texans ranked 22nd last season. They are led by their big defensive line with Mario Williams, DelJuan Robinson, Amobi Okoye, and Antonio Smith.

The Texans travel to Arizona, Cincinnati, Buffalo, St. Louis, and Miami. The advantage is that St. Louis and Cincinnati are not going to have their best years. Arizona and Miami both have explosive offenses.

As for their home games, the Texans face the New York Jets, Oakland, San Francisco, Seattle, and New England. Almost half of those games are no-win games.

3. Tennessee Titans: The Titans will not have the same success they had last season. They still have Kerry Collins who is a solid, but older quarterback. With Chris Johnson and LenDale White in the backfield, they should take some focus off Collins.

Collins will throw to Nate Washington, who was a big pickup in the offseason. On the other side, Collins will throw to Justin Gage. The Titans also retained tight end Bo Scaiffe.

The Titans defense is led by their defensive line, who ranked sixth in rush defense last season. Jevon Kearse is the big man on the end that anchors the defensive line. Joining Kearse are Tony Brown, Jason Jones, and Kyle VandenBosch.

As for the linebackers and secondary, look for Keith Bullock, Nick Harper, and Cortland Finnegan to make a difference.

The Titans have a slightly tough road schedule. They travel to Pittsburgh, the New York Jets, New England, San Francisco, and Seattle. Pittsburgh and New England speak for themselves. While San Francisco and Seattle are not great, those west coast trips are usually tough.

The Titans have a more favorable home schedule hosting Buffalo, San Diego, St. Louis, Miami, and Arizona. There will be some major problems, but the Titans have homefield which will help.

2. Indianapolis Colts: This is going to be a close race with the Colts and Jaguars. As long as Peyton Manning is the quarterback, the Colts will also be close to the top of the division. The Colts got rid of Dominic Rhodes and Marvin Harrison.

Manning still has Anthony Gonzalez and Reggie Wayne to throw to. He will have Joseph Addai in the backfield, with rookie Donald Brown from Connecticut as the backup.

As for their defense, the Colts are led by their secondary. The Colts secondary finished sixth against the pass last season. Cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden have the support of safeties Melvin Bullitt and Antoine Bethea.

Up front, the Colts are led by Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney. They will further step up their game this season.

The Colts have to visit Miami, Arizona, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Buffalo. They have some tough games, but can come out on top if they stick to their gameplan.

The Colts will also host Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Denver, and the New York Jets. With the Jets and Broncos having off-seasons, the Colts have a decent home schedule.

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars will vastly improve this season. They have the talent to turn around the AFC South. The Jaguars do not have a superstar quarterback but David Garrard will get the job done.

Picking up Torry Holt will help Garrard. He will have Troy Williamson on the other side. In the backfield is Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew is a tough back to play against because he is so versatile. This will help the Jaguars.

The Jaguars finished 13th in rush defense last year and 24th against the pass. They will have to majorly improve their pass defense to come out on top of this division.

Reggie Hayward, John Henderson, Rob Meier, and Derrick Harvey all return from the line last year. As they continue to play together and get more comfortable, look for this line to make some big moves.

The Jaguars will have to travel to Seattle, the New York Jets, San Francisco, New England, and Cleveland. The west coast trips are always difficult as is a trip to New England. The games against the Browns and the Jets play to the Jaguars' advantage.

The Jaguars will host Arizona, St. Louis, Kansas City, Buffalo, and Miami. Having homefield advantage will help the Jaguars as some of these games are pretty tough.


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