AFC South Preview: Year of the Jaguar?

Tommy SharpeContributor IAugust 31, 2008

As Summer draws to a close and the chill of September hits the air,all across the nation we NFL fans know the greatest sport on Earth is back.

With this fresh, new feeling surrounding all 32 teams, it is clear that anyone of them could hoist the Lombardi Trophy on February 1st in Tampa.

At the beginning of the season their are always "sexy" picks. This season is no different with favorites such as New England, Indianapolis, Dallas and San Diego just to name a few. However, no one can sleep on the Jacksonville Jaguars and if you do, you are in for a very rude awaking.

Since its inception in 2002, the AFC South has been about one team: The Indianapolis Colts. With the emergence of the other three teams in this division (Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Houston) the AFC South has now become a powerhouse.

Each year the Colts can feel the Jaguars breathing down their neck, but somehow, someway, the Jags seem to always fall short. As the perennial dark horse in the NFL, Jacksonville is always over looked thanks to their divisional foes from Indianapolis.

Just take a look at the schedule and explodes off the page, wait the Colts have to travel to San Diego and New England? This could very well be the first time in five years that the Colts do not win their division or 12 games in a season.

During their Super Bowl year, the Colts lost a home game to each one of the teams in their division, if they do that this year they might as well hand Jacksonville the division crown. Indianapolis will also open the season sans center Jeff Saturday and with Manning not at 100 percent. The Colts will make the playoffs winning the fifth seed and will finish 11-5.

Tennessee, who finished 10-6, was on a three game winning streak entering the playoffs last year, but came out on the short end of a 17-6 road loss to the San Diego Chargers. 

The defense and running game were high points for the Titans, while second year QB Vince Young had his fair share of Sophomore struggles. This year Vince looks to redeem himself and lead his team to the playoffs again.

Long time coach Jeff Fischer is looking for the one thing that has eluted him, a Super Bowl ring. The running game is good and the D is a bit better than last year, but this team needs an extra push to be able to compete in the rough and tough AFC. This year the Titans will finish 7-9 taking a few steps back from their playoff season a year ago.

For most AFC teams 8-8 is a disappointing season, however, for the Houston Texans 2007 was a huge step forward. Defensive end Mario Williams who was the first overall pick of the 2006 draft had a break out season in 2007.

Williams along with Texans Defensive coordinator Richard Smith will look to lead an emerging D line into NFL elite. On the offensive side on the ball, Wide Receiver Andre Johnson is among the leagues top wide outs. In 2007 Johnson  played nine games but managed to rack up 851 yards and eight touchdowns on only 60 catches.

After acquiring former Atlanta Falcon back up Matt Schaub, the Texans offense will be strong for years to come. Head Coach Gary Kubiak has a great young team. This year the Texans will have a repeat performance and once again finish the season 8-8.

A dark cloud is looming over the AFC. It circles and swirls around Indianapolis. This cloud is the 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars.

Head Coach Jack Del Rio and his team pack a powerful punch and will finally over take the mighty Colts. Quarterback David Gerard and the one two half-back combination of future hall of famer Fred Taylor and the third year lighting bolt of out UCLA, Marice Jones-Drew, will lead the Jags on their quest for the AFC South championship.

A strong, tough, nasty defense will once again punish every team they face this season. Corners Rashean Mathis and Drayton Florence are a great duo and will lead this defense.

The Jags have it where in counts: size, speed, and amazing talent. The schedule is relatively light and they will dominate their opponents early and often. The 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars will go 13-3 and win the AFC South.

After sending three teams to the playoffs in 2007, the AFC South will have two teams in the 2008 post season. If all goes right we could potentially see the Indianapolis Colts vs the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship game to see which team advances to Super Bowl XLIII. Expect great things for the players and coaches of this phenomenal division and for some head turning moments.