2013 NFL Preview: AFC South

Texans and Colts lead two team race in AFC South

9/5/13 in NFL   |   jakeryanbrown   |   28 respect

The AFC South will essentially be a two team race this season between the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts.  Andrew Luck was remarkable in his rookie season and is only going to get better, but defense wins championships.  The Texans have too much talent on both sides of the ball to not win this division, but the race will be close.  The Titans and Jaguars are still a couple of years away from contention.  Let's take a look how the AFC South standings will play out in 2013. 
Aug 25, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub (8) throws a pass against the new Orleans Saints at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports 1. Houston Texans (11-5) 

The Houston Texans are coming off back-to-back AFC South titles.      The problem has been winning in the playoffs for this team against the likes of Brady and Manning.  The Texans had a top ten offense and defense last season.  Don’t expect that to change with some key offseason additions on both sides of the ball.  An already stacked defense adds future Hall of Famer Ed Reed at safety, making them even more dangerous against the passing attack.  J.J. Watt returns after winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season and should make opposing quarterbacks lives miserable.  On the offensive side of the ball, a lot will ride on Arian Foster being able to stay healthy, but if he does, this team has the talent to make a push for a Super Bowl.  Matt Schaub needs to prove to the nay-sayers that he can get a couple playoff wins under his belt.   Look for rookie wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to follow Andre Johnson and Owen Daniels as Schaub’s favorite targets.  Expect the Texans to win their third straight AFC South title with a 11-5 finish.
2. Indianapolis Colts (10-6) 

Andrew Luck took the football world by storm last season as he turned the Colts
from pretenders to Aug 24, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) throws a pass against the Cleveland Browns at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sportscontenders.  Luck singlehandedly led a weak roster from a 2-14 season to an 11-5 record and a playoff birth.  The young stud was tremendous throwing the ball for over 4,000 yards and led all AFC quarterbacks in rushing yards.  The Colts needed to get better in the backfield and on their offensive line this offseason, which they did with the additions of Gosder Cherilus, Donald Thomas, and Ahmad Bradshaw.  If Bradshaw can stay healthy, that allows this offense to mix the playbook up, which would take a lot of pressure off their superstar QB.  The Colts defense will be a big question mark and the reason they don’t win this division this season.  This team is still a couple of years away from making a deep playoff run, but they have the quarterback to get them there.  Look for the Colts to finish 10-6 and win one of the two Wild Card spots. 
3. Tennessee Titans (6-10) 

Aug 24, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker (10) passes against the Atlanta Falcons during the first half at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY SportsThe Titans made a ton of moves in the offseason, but are still not in a position to come close to the playoffs just yet.  Tennessee improved their offensive line, which was one of their biggest weaknesses last season.  They now have some blockers for Chris Johnson and their newest backup Shonn Greene.  Jake Locker lost his tight end Jared Cook and the Titans receivers outside won’t make cornerbacks lose too much sleep.  Nate Washington and Kenny Britt have been mediocre, and Kendall Wright is still unproven.  Locker has also been unable to stay healthy over the course of a season, which could force new backup Ryan Fitzpatrick into some games.  As Locker grows, so will the Titans, and he isn’t ready to take the next step yet.  While the offense definitely got considerably better this offseason, their defense is still one of the worst in the NFL.  Expect the defense to lose them a bunch of games this season as the Titans finish with just six wins for the second straight year. 
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) 
Aug 9, 2013; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert (11) drops back to throw the ball during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsJaguars new head coach Gus Bradley has a long road ahead of him as his team continues a rebuilding process.  It all begins at quarterback, where the Jags still don’t know if Blaine Gabbert is even starting material.  Gabbert has been horrific in his first two seasons and Chad Henne replaced him last season and wasn’t much better.  Jacksonville ranked 30th in defense and 29th in offense last season and those stats won’t change much this year.  Maurice Jones-Drew will carry this offense in a contract year, but the Jaguars need to be able to answer the biggest question mark behind center.  Until they can find the answer at QB, the Jags are a couple of years from contending for a playoff spot.  Expect a 4-12 season and a last place finish for Jacksonville. 
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