This is probably the Jags best chance to win the division and get home-field advantage since the expansion of the Houston Texans and re-shaped divisions. With Peyton Manning just returning to the practice field this week, he is going to be rusty for the first couple weeks of the season and the Colts open up with Chicago, Minnesota and J-Ville, all three with very tough defenses. I would not be surprised to see the Colts go 0-3 out fo the gate that being said the Jaguars have Tennessee, Buffalo and Indianapolis not necessarily ideal for them, however if they could go 2-1 with one of the wins coming over Indianapolis they will be in the drivers seat for the rest of the season.
Jack Del Rio also has the horses that could take him to the promise land. Look at what they did last year without much experience they beat a very experienced Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh, then went up to New England where they matched New England quarter for quarter (well besides the third). There defense will be improved with the addition of Derrick Harvey and there wide receiving core just got a lot deeper with the addition of Jerry Porter. Plus, they have a Quarterback with a stop complaining and get the job done attitude in David Garrard, and if he goes down they have a proven winner in Cleo Lemon (hahahahaha).
Final record 12-4
2) Indianapolis Colts
Even if Peyton struggles early on he will pick his game back up really quickly and they will be the same old Colts they always are. They are the same team they have been for the past couple of years. Manning will throw the ball all over the place on pretty much anyone and everyone, Addai will pitch in here and there early on and then pick up most of his stats late and the defense will be good enough to win to really good.
The only questions are about the health of the three best players, Manning, Marvin Harrison and Dwight Freeney. All suffered huge injuries last season and spent at least part of training camp still rehabilitating and trying to get to game speed and strength. The faster they are able to do that the better. The other question is whether or not they go down again because they either came back to soon or whatever? If they stay healthy and are able to play in the post season the Colts will be the threat they always are to make it to the Superbowl, if not they will fall down to the level of the Bengals the past couple of seasons mediocre, with the potential to be great.
Final Record 10-6
3) Tennessee Titans
Similar to the Colts it should be the same old story for the Titans, a great defense with a mediocre offense. That is not a recipe for success. Trust me, I sat and watched the Miami Dolphins do that for several years in the early 2000’s with the Jay Fiedler to Oronde Gadsden days while on defense they had Sam Madison, Brock Marion, Patrick Surtain, Jason Taylor, Zach Thomas and others all in their primes. Kicking field goals is fine, it is better than turnovers or punting, but every once in a while you have to punch the ball in there for six because sooner or later your defense wears down and starts giving up touchdowns. If you do not believe me look up that overtime game from last year where Rob Bironas had to kick eight field goals to hold off the Texans who put up 29 points in the fourth quarter (they only scored 36 for the game).
I put all of the offensive pressure on Vince Young. He has to start making better decisions throwing the football, because that will open up running lanes for LenDale White and himself. I am not saying he has to become Brady or Manning, because he is not and never will be. His biggest strength as a player is the ability to run if he can start taking advantage of every team in the NFL expecting him to run they will begin to back off and the Titans could take off.
Final Record: 7-9
4) Houston Texans
The Texans are the fourth team in a three team division. Outside of Andre Johnson they have a horrible offense filled with a has been (Ahman Green) and a couple never was’s (Chris Brown and Marcell Shipp) at running back, and a Quarterback who needs to prove himself for more than one game against the Patriots several years ago (Matt Shaub). There is some promise on defense with DeMeco Ryans hitting anything in sight and Mario Williams coming into his own last season (59 tackles, 14 sacks).
But like I said they are the fourth team in a three team division and it is incredibly difficult for them to compete in the NFL when six of their 16 games come within the division. The Texans are going to need several break out seasons and a few out of their rear- end plays to contend for the playoffs, until that happens or they start drafting better talent they will remain at the cellar of the AFC South.
Final Record: 4-12