A Totally Biased Way-Too-Big NFL Preview: The AFC South

The AFC South is one of the more intriguing divisions in the NFL.

While the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans are potential Super Bowl Contenders, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are in rebuilding phases. All four teams have added pieces to their teams that should pay dividends in 2013; each team should improve off of their performances from 2012.

As far as this division goes, it’s a two team race between Indianapolis and Houston. Although, with the addition of Ed Reed to the Houston defense, the Texans are the most complete team in the division. I can’t envision the Colts taking the division from the grips of Houston.


Houston Texans

2012 Recap: After finishing 10-6 in 2011, the Texans improved to 12-4 and clinched their second straight division title. In the Wild Card round of the playoffs, Houston dispatched the Cincinnati Bengals to the tune of 19-14. The next round didn’t go as planned when they met the 12-4 Patriots, losing 41-28.

The 2013 should bode well for the Texans, with the free agents they’ve brought in and grabbing some great players in the draft.

Biggest Off-season Move: Signing Ed Reed. Anytime you bring in one of the best safeties in the league, your defense will surely blossom. Houston signed 9-time Pro-Bowler, Ed Reed, on March 22nd. The Texans had lacked veteran leadership in their defensive backfield, especially in big games, and Reed was just the man to fill that void. I mean, come on. It’s Ed Reed. The Texans defense WILL get better, which is scary.

Breakout Player: DeAndre Hopkins. If signing Ed Reed was the best thing to do for the Texans defense, then drafting DeAndre Hopkins in the first round was the best thing for their offense. The 6’1″ Hopkins adds another big target for QB Matt Schaub, to go with Andre Johnson. Both wide-outs will thrive in this offense, especially if Arian Foster has another great season.

Crucial Match-up: @ San Francisco 49ers Sunday, October 6th. Two of the league’s best defenses square off on Sunday Night Football.

Indianapolis Colts

2012 Recap: After an awful 2011 season, finishing 2-14, the Colts grabbed Andrew Luck as the #1 overall pick in the draft and the rest in history. Well, kinda. The Colts top pick led Indianapolis to a surprising 11-5 and a Wild Card berth in the playoffs. The Colts were defeated in the Wild Card round by the eventual Super Bowl Champs, Baltimore Ravens.

Biggest Off-season Move: Shoring up the offensive line [Gosder Cherilus and Donald Thomas] The Colts allowed an absurd 41 sacks in 2012. To help sure up the Indianapolis offensive line, the Colts signed former Patriot Donald Thomas and Gosder Cherilus, who played the 2012 campaign in Detroit. Donald Thomas comes from a Patriots’ team that ONLY produces good linemen and learned his trade from Dante Scarnecchia, the God-father of the offensive line.

Breakout PlayerCoby Fleener. After being drafted in the second round of the draft last year, Fleener was expected to produce big numbers with his former Standford teammate, Andrew Luck, at the helm. Fleener was a disappointment with missing 4 games to a shoulder injury and recording just 26 catches 281 yards and 2 touchdowns.

So why will Fleener be a breakout player? Because I said so, of course! The Colts made a change a offensive coordinator to after Bruce Arians left to become the head coach of the Cardinals. The Colts acquired Fleener’s old coordinator Pep Hamilton. Fleener thrived in Hamilton’s system in 2011 and looks to reap the benefits in 2013.

Crucial Match-up: vs Seattle Seahawks, Sunday October 6th. The Colts first big test at home comes against one of the league’s top defenses.

Tennessee Titans

2012 Recap: With inconsistent Quarterback play and injuries to the offensive line, the Titans failed to improve off their 2011 season and finished up their 2012 campaign at 6-10.

The Titans are in a tough division, so they’ll need Jake Locker to be great to have a successful season.

Biggest Off-season Move: Signing Andy Levitre and drafting Chance Warmack. The Titans attempted to re-tool their offensive line this season by drafting Chance Warmack in the first round and signing Andy Levitre. Both guards should help open up running lanes for Chris Johnson, and with a good running game comes a good aerial attack. Right?

Breakout Player: Kendall Wright. In 2012, Kendall Wright didnt exactly light it up with his 64 passes, 626 yards and 4 touchdowns. It’s now time for Wright to show the league what he’s made of in 2013 and have himself a breakout season. With a healthy Jake locker and a re-tooled o-line, Wright and the rest of the Titans offense should flourish in 2013.

Crucial Match-up: @ Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, September 8th. The Titans have a good chance to start their season off great with a win against the Steelers.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 Recap: The Jacksonville Jaguars took a giant step back from their 2011 season by ending their year at 2-14. Basically… they sucked. I won’t sugar-coat it.

Biggest Off-season MoveDrafting Luke Joeckel. The Jaguars added one of the top offensive linemen, Luke Joeckel, with the 2nd overall pick in this year’s draft. Joeckel is set to become an immediate contributor to the offensive line and help protect Blaine Gabbart. Or Chad Henne. Or whoever is the Jags starting QB.

Breakout Player: The Jags new jerseys. Have you seen those new jerseys?! They’re great. Aaaaaand that’s about the only that the Jags will have going for them.

Crucial Match-up: @ Oakland Raiders Sunday, September 15th. Because why not?

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