Houston: We Do NOT Have a Problem
Houston, there is no problem at all. Fear not Texans faithful. I can see through the mud, and it looks beautiful.
The common theme of the past few weeks' news cycle has been whether the Texans can make an impact in the postseason. To those who question, I say, stop being shortsighted!
Since the inception of the AFC South in 2002, the Darth Vader of the division has reigned the galaxy using some form of dark power that has no explanation. Peyton Manning has single-handedly made the AFC South the most predictable division in football for the past decade, using powers not seen since the great villainous duo of the NFC West, Joe Montana and Steve Young. The 49ers won 13 out of 16 division titles from 1981 through to 1997. The three other teams to win this division title in that time frame? The Los Angeles Rams, the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers. If ever there was a justification for ridding the league of the old archaic six-division league, Carolina and New Orleans being in a division labelled “West” is the one I would dive straight into.
Once the apprentice, Young, had departed the division, oh boy did it become competitive! The division was represented in three of the next four Superbowls (Yes, one was the Atlantic Coast- based Atlanta Falcons). This is what we are heading toward with the AFC South.
With the impending departure of Manning, the division will be plunged into an era of parity not seen in its short existence. Or will it?
Let's put on a pair of the new Future-Goggles-3000 and see what the division is going to look like in the next three years. Please remember, these aren't my opinions; they are the guarantees made by the snazzy-looking goggles on my face.
Let us start with the aforementioned Indianapolis Colts. After they end the 2012 season 4-12, the Colts are going to release Manning. The empire will scream and shout about the lack of loyalty shown to the man who brought them to great power. The empire will get over it.
Bill Polian, who is underrated in being one of the worst draft day executives in recent years, won't mess up the first overall pick in April as he will make the right choice with Andrew Luck. It is not very often that someone comes along who has the potential to slot right in as the leader of such an empire. There is one flaw in the bait-and-switch plan that Polian and his franchise-destroyer of a son will concoct in the coming months.
The Colts aren't very talented. After years of missing on 5-6 picks a draft, the lack of talent and depth is only more apparent this past season as they did not have Manning to cover up. With an offensive line best described as offensive, a receiving core filled with either young guys who like to disappear in crunch time or old guys who refuse to disappear when they should and a stable of running backs who scream mediocrity, the offense no longer has the foundation to be the juggernaut it once was. Pair this with a defensive line who is as stout against the run as the Pillsbury Doughboy, a line-backing core which is great at making tackles after the ball carrier has gamed 8-10 yards, and a defensive backfield with a worse health track record than a 19th century chimney sweep, and you have the makings of a depressing few years in Indianapolis.
After one season of trying the same old formula with the same old players, the Colts will decide to bite the bullet on the Wall Street bailout-size contract they gave Manning in the summer of 2011 and release him. It will be for the best in the long run. Trust me, I'm wearing the goggles.
Once they have decided to start over with Luck, the Colts will drop down to fighting with the Jaguars for the higher draft pick for a couple of seasons. Fear not Colts fans, it does get better, but that story is for another time! (One final note, in the future you will find out that Jim Caldwell is in fact a cyborg sent back in time to pretend to coach, but actually stands there blankly staring into space. Trust me, I'm wearing the goggles.)
If you are a Jaguars fan laughing at the upcoming three years of the Colts, pipe down. You have it worse. Also, if you are a Jaguars fan in Jacksonville, future you hates the team for moving to Los Angeles. The businessman, Shahid Khan, buying the team in the coming months lied to you all and moved them to the L.A. Live stadium the first opportunity he got. He sincerely apologizes, but reminds you that you haven't supported this team like you should and you should blame yourself. Future Khan likes money more than honesty. Tough break, Jacksonville.
The Los Angeles Jaguars, as they become in 2013, do not have a good-looking future. After the team is given the opportunity to abandon the Blaine Gabbert experiment with a trade for Matt Barkley in the draft, new coach Jeff Fisher struggles to a 4-12 record in 2012. Unfortunately this is not bad enough to get one of the top Quarterback Prospects in the 2013 draft. With minimal talent at receiver and Maurice Jones-Drew suffering from severe back issues after carrying the offense for so long, the offense is by far the worst unit in the next few years. The young defense built in the 2010 and 2011 drafts is an above average unit, but will not be able to overcome the Blaine Gabbert express.
On the topic of Blaine Gabbert, all the analysts who claimed that the Tennessee Titans made a mistake selected Jake Locker over Gabbert in the 2011 draft are proven incredibly wrong. Locker becomes an above average quarterback who is able to overcome some issues on the offensive line to become very productive. Unfortunately for the Titans, Chris Johnson retired after the 2012 season, citing, “I have too much money in the bank to be doing this crap” issues. Jamie Harper is unable to do much with his opportunity, forcing Locker to carry the entire offense. On the bright side, Kenny Britt is one of the top three receivers in the league, gaining 1,400 yards receiving in both the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The defensive side of the ball is unable to overcome age and talent concerns, especially after Cortland Finnegan decides to come out of the closet as the first openly homosexual player in the NFL and retires to follow his dream of starring in a Broadway musical. OK, this doesn't really happen, but wouldn't it explain a lot of his issues in the past few years with one swift brush stroke.
All of this sets up the Houston Texans to lead the charge in the division, destroying any chance of parity for the next few seasons. After a respectable loss in the play-offs to the Denver Tebows, the Texans go into the 2012 season with a renewed sense of urgency, tearing through the division on the way to the AFC Championship game, where Tim Tebow's deal with Jesus, or Allah, or whoever, shows up big and defeats the top defense in the league of Houston. I am not going to ruin how the 2013 season ends up, but I will say this: Tebow may have won the first two battles, but my god he did not win the war!
So to summarize the upcoming few years in the AFC South: The Colts are awful, the Jaguars are in Los Angeles, Cortland Finnegan is NOT a homosexual and the Texans are legitimate.
Oh, and there is no shame in losing to Tim Tebow in the playoffs.
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