About the only thing that’s certain in the AFC South is that the Colts will win it (barring an injury to Andrew Luck).

Beyond that?

Houston will have a great defense, but they should have had one last year.  The Titans ALWAYS seem to be two years away, and the Jaguars have finally bottomed out and are on the way up.

But where to exactly position these teams?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The Colts offense was good last year, and it could be great this year.  Andrew Luck is still young, but he’s now in his third year, and if there’s another corner to be turned, and another level to which it can be taken, he’ll do it soon or not at all.  He gets Reggie Wayne back and Hakeem Nicks gets added as a target.  Nice.

Losing Donald Brown doesn’t help, and if Trent Richardson is worth ANYTHING he needs to step it up now.  The bad news of course is that the Colts were bad on defense last year, and don’t expect much improvement this year.  I figure that stops Indy from going any further than they did last season.

Did you ever get the impression that God hates the Jaguars?

They take Blaine Gabbert in that sea of quarterbacks in 2011 (6 of the first 36 picks) and he winds up being far and away the absolute worst.

Then they take Justin Blackmon and the kid is phenomenal but he gets himself suspended indefinitely and then gets arrested for more drugs.  Bye Justin.

Then they take Luke Joeckel to try to bolster their line and he gets hurt.  Sheesh.

But good news.  Blake Bortles, this year’s 1st round QB, looks damn good.

He may not start the season, but he’s the reason for Jacksonville fans to be hopeful.  WR Marqise Lee has looked good so far, although he’s no Blackmon.  If there’s a God, and if He doesn’t hate the Jaguars, Joeckel will come back and at least be a capable starter.

On defense, the Jags were awful in 2013 but made some veteran acquisitions to take at least a few steps toward respectability.  This team won’t contend, but they shouldn’t stink either.

I don’t know how the Houston Texans were 2-14 bad in 2013, but they will be decidedly better in 2014.

Their offense, now headed by Ryan Fitzpatrick, will continue to be bottom third, but their defense will be scary-good, and their line, which features JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Louis Nix, could be all time great.  Add in a last place schedule, and the Texans should rebound significantly off of 2013.

The Tennessee Titans have a new coach, and they will be changing systems on both sides of the ball.

Consequently, this season will be as much a referendum on a number of players, especially QB Jake Locker, as it will be a quest to win ball games.  On offense, the Titans lack established weapons, but have promising players at the skill positions looking to break out.

On defense, Tennessee has some established stars, but the transition to the 3-4 may not suit all of them.

Predicted Finish:

Indianapolis Colts (12-4) (2nd seed; AFC Divisional Round)

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9)

Houston Texans (7-9)

Tennessee Titans (5-11)


Games to Watch:

Week 1 – Indianapolis @Denver:  If the Colts want to show that they’ve materially upgraded since last season, a win over the Broncos would be a huge statement.

Week 7 – Cleveland @Jacksonville:  Manziel vs. Bortles?  Probably too early to see that, but can you imagine?

Week 9 – Philadelphia @Houston:  Is there anyone who wouldn’t want to take a look at Chip Kelly’s high-powered offense vs. the juggernaut Texans front 7?

Week 11 – Pittsburgh @Tennessee:   It might be interesting to watch this game to see if this one-time rivalry has survived now that a number of the main combatants have moved on.