Peyton Manning’s neck surgery sealed it. The ailment may or may not be career-threatening, eerily similar to the way his brother Cooper stepped down with spinal stenosis.
But the bleak outlook of the AFC South in 2011 is all but confirmed. SI’s Chris Burke tweeted that if the Texans don’t step up then the AFC South is in the mix for worst division in football.
This is certainly true, but I’ll take it a step further and not only predict this but also suggest that the Houston Texans can win 10-12 games and the South will still be at the bottom.
This gloomy future for a division that at this time last year was considered the NFL's most well-rounded means nothing but sunshine for the Houston Texans, who present the only competent team of the bunch.
The Titans could fair decently until Matt Hasselbeck potentially goes down by Week 5 and QB play sinks them like last year.
I can’t imagine Jake Locker being ready any time soon. And I don’t even need to explain the quarterback-finalized disasters that are Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
Fantasy football alert: Pick up and start Houston Texans Team D vs. Colts this week and five more times vs. the rest of division.
A Wade Phillips-coordinated defense is something to trust, especially against these opponents.
Meanwhile, this division sounds like a six-layered victory cake for Houston, who could inflate their win total further thanks to out-of-schedule matchups with Miami and Oakland.
And while no individual squad from the NFC West will win as many games as Houston, the quartet is better top-to-bottom than the AFC South.
I will take any three of the 49ers, Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks’ average win total over the Colts, Titans and Jaguars.
Assuming Locker could very well get behind center for Tennessee eventually, wouldn’t you?
Either way, that AFC South trio is hitting 2011 with all new starters at QB, a terrifying position after the summer of lockout.
The Rams and 49ers come back with continuity while the Cardinals undeniably improve upon perhaps the worst QB platoon of the past decade.
We all saw what that offense did in the Super Bowl vs. Pittsburgh and it didn’t look all that different in 2010 on paper, outside Anquan Boldin and Kurt Warner.
Granted, a dropoff from Warner was almost guaranteed, but some major weapons and infrastructure remained. It’ll be like night and day with Kevin Kolb even if he’s just decent.
And let’s not forget Seattle won a playoff game last year. There might not be a team I can remember that giving credit to is so difficult, but that’s a fact.
I have them finishing last in the NFC West at five wins, but still looking better than the Colts or Jags. Congrats NFC West, you’ve climbed from historical awfulness to No. seven in the league. Huzzah!