A few years back, the AFC South was considered one of the best conferences in football. Since 1999, three of its four teams have been to an AFC championship game, and two of it's four teams have played in a Superbowl.
During their days of dominance they also had some great football players such as Peyton Manning, Steve McNair, Marvin Harrison, Fred Taylor, John Henderson, Eddie George and Edgerrin James.
Now that those days are gone, the AFC South may now be one of the weakest divisions in the league. In fact, they may only be better than the NFC West.
There are still talented players players in the division though; Peyton Manning is still here along with new greats such as Chris Johnson, Arian Foster, Maurice Jones-Drew, Mario Williams, Courtland Finnegan, Austin Collie and Tyson Alualua.
Also Joining the AFC South is a new rookie class headlined by first round rookie quarterbacks Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert, the Titans' and Jaguars' picks, respectively.
So who has the most talented team, you may ask? I will try to determine this on a position-by-position basis. I will rank each team's talent at each position one through four. The higher a team ranks, the more points they receive from that position. First place is four points, second is three, third is two, and fourth is one. at the end I will count the points up and declare a winner.
Today I will rank the offense; next week will be defense.
1. Colts: Peyton Manning
2. Texans: Matt Schaub
3. Jaguars: David Garrard/Blaine Gabbert
4. Titans: Kerry Collins/Jake Locker
The Colts win easily. Manning is one of the premier players in the league and one of the best quarterbacks ever.
Schaub is a very good Pro Bowl player who beats out the Titans and Jaguars, who both have a washed up veteran and an unproven rookie.
1. Tennessee Titans: Chris Johnson
2. Houston Texans: Arian Foster
3. Jacksonville Jaguars: Maurice Jones-Drew
4. Colts: Joseph Addai/Donald Brown/Mike Hart/Javaris James
The Colts have two possible starters and no elite players. While Addai is a versatile threat, he has struggled of late and Brown has not lived up to expectations.
The reason I gave the Titans the top spot is because Chris Johnson has put up great stats with no consistent quarterback play and has broken records doing it. The only other back in the league that could have a 1,300 yard season and have it be considered sub-par is Adrian Peterson.
MJD and Foster are two of the NFL's best and are both poised to have great seasons.
1. Jaguars: Greg Jones
2. Titans: Ahmad Hall
3. Texans: Vontae Leach
4. Colts: Jacob Tamme/Brody Eldridge
The Colts do not really use a fullback much. The two listed above are mostly H-back recievers.
The rest of the AFC South is chock-full of quality, hard-nosed lead blockers at the position. If it is possible, the fullbacks in this league may be more talented at what they do than the running backs are at what they do.
1. Texans: Andre Johnson/Kevin Walter/Jacoby Jones
2. Colts: Reggie Wayne/Pierre Garcon/Austin Collie/Anthony Gonzalez
3. Titans: Kenny Britt/Lavelle Hawkins/Justin Gage/Damian Williams/Nate Washington/Marc Mariani
4. Jaguars: Mike Sims-Walker/Mike Thomas/Kassim Osgood/Cecil Short
In my opinion, Andre Johnson is the best in the league. Combined with a sure-handed Walters and an explosive Jones, they make a dynamic trio.
The Colts have a solid receiveing core, but Wayne is getting old and Collie and Gonzalez have injury issues.
Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are a solid two for Tennessee, but Williams, Hawkins, or Mariani need to give them a solid third guy.
The Jaguars have some potential, but Sims-Walker disappointed and they have no number one.
1. Colts: Dallas Clark/Jacob Tamme/Brody Eldridge
2. Jaguars: Marcedes Lewis/Zach Miller
3. Texans: Owen Daniels/James Casey
4. Titans: Jared Cook/Bo Scaife/Craig Stevens
This is the area that could flux the most between this year and the next.
Clark, Lewis, and Daniels are all very good tight ends, and each could jump past one another with a good season.
In Tennessee, Scaife is gone, leaving the door open for Jared Cook. He is extremely talented and could be an elite tight end within a couple of years.
1. Titans: David Stewart/Michael Roos
2. Houston: Duane Brown/Eric Winston
3. Jaguars: Eugene Monroe/Eben Britton
4. Colts: Anthony Costonzo/Charlie Johnson/Ryan Diem
The Titans have possibly the best tackle combo in the league. Roos and Stewart are both top five at their positions. Brown and Winston both did a good job with the run and pass, leading to a successful offensive year for Houston.
In Jacksonville, Monroe and Britton have both been solid. The worst in the division has to go to the Colts, who drafted Costonzo, an untested rookie, but have no other players at the position that can make an impact.
1. Texans: Antoine Caldwell/Wade Smith/Cassey Studdard
2. Titans: Jake Scott/Leroy Harris
3. Jaguars: Vince Manuwai/Uche Nwaneri/Justin Smiley
4. Colts: Benjami Ijalana/Jaques Mclendon/Ryan Diem
The only truly good unit was the Texans. Their zone blocking allowed Arian Foster to run wild this year.
Jake Scott is a solid talent for the Titans, but Harris struggled.
The Jags and the Colts both had below average guards and need improvement.
1. Colts: Jeff Saturday
2. Jaguars: Brad Meester
3. Titans: Kevin Matthews/Eugene Amano/Fernando Velasco
4. Texans: Chris Myers
Saturday and Meester are both very good players who are starting to age.
Eugene Amano and Kevin Matthews are both capable starters and so is Myers.
Overall, one and two are close as are three and four.
1. Texans: 22
3. Colts: 19
4. Jaguars: 19
These rankings are a bit surprising. The Colts were tied for last, and the Titans were second. It seems obvious to me that each team has lots of talent, but in different areas.
For example, the Colts have a strong passing game, but a relatively weak offensive line that hurt their ranking. Since the passing game is so important in offenses, the Colts are far more potent than their rankings suggest.
Another anomaly was the Titans' relatively good score. The reason for this is they were never last except in quarterbacks and had a lot of first places. Once again, passing is important, so the lack of a quality quarterback last season explains why the Titans struggled despite good talent.
The most accurate portrayal of overall talent plus success was the Houston Texans, who had one of the best offenses in the game last year and came in first on the list.
Here is how I would judge the teams for next year based on expectation and previous production.