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Written by Ben Pfeifer
I cannot wait for football, and I assume it is the same for you. Here are some AFC South Division predictions to hold you over.
Indianapolis Colts: Offseason Grade-B, Best Record – 12-4, Worst Record-7-9
I’ll start with my favorite team, the Colts. Bear with me, I will do my best to be as unbiased as possible. The Colts biggest weakness was the offensive line, and Jim Irsay did a great thing by spending 4 draft picks on the offensive line, including star center Ryan Kelly. They also have spent a lot of time developing their current offensive line and have been developing chemistry between Ryan Kelly and Andrew Luck, who just today has become the highest paid player in NFL history. I think the Colts offense given the talent around them and should be one of the best in the league. The Colts defense is a large concern. The defensive line is improving with young, talented players such as David Parry, Henry Anderson, and Hassan Ridgeway. The linebackers are decent, but the secondary is the biggest concern but has large potential. Vontae Davis is great, and players such as Clayton Geathers and D’Joun Smith need to develop, but the secondary is a big concern. Also, the Colts did a good job by not spending big in free agency and building through the draft, following a model set by the Packers and Seahawks. Expect the Colts to have a bounce back season.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Offseason Grade – A, Best Record – 11-5, Worst Record-6-10
The Jaguars are arguably the most improved team in the NFL this offseason. They hit an absolute home run in the draft by selecting Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best defensive player in the class. He can play corner or safety, and is able to completely take away one side of the field. They were also able to steal Myles Jack in the second round, a top give talent in the draft who fell due to injury concerns. Yannick Ngakoue, who was a third round steal as well, and Sheldon Day are two very solid defensive linemen. They spent big in free agency, signing linebacker Malik Jackson, cornerback Prince Amukamara, and safety Tashaun Gipson. These moves create one of the most young and exciting defenses in the league. They also signed Chris Ivory to create a terrific 1-2 punch with TJ Yeldon. Their great offense led by Blake Bortles is to be feared. The only thing that could hold the Jaguars back are their lackluster offensive line, and their lack of experience and chemistry. It may take them a while to figure it out, but if they can the Jaguars could be a great team.
Houston Texans: Offseason Grade – B+, Best Record-12-4, Worst Record-7-9
The Texans also had a very good offseason. They added a load of talent to an already talented roster, most importantly quarterback Brock Osweiler. He has potential and had a decent season last year, but many think his 72 million price tag is too much. But, he could be the answer at quarterback the Texans have been looking for. The Texans signed Lamar Miller, who was very good for Miami last year. Along with wideouts Deandre Hopkins and Jaelen Strong, they drafted Will Fuller and Braxton Miller to improve their big play capability. Fuller was a questionable pick, because they traded up for him and he is not as talented as Laquon Treadwell or Josh Doctson, who were available. Fuller is a burner, but has very questionable hands. They also took Nick Martin in the second round, a quality offensive lineman. They did not do much to their defense, but any defense with J.J. Watt is going to wreak havoc on any opposing team. Linebacker Jadeveon Clowney is bound to breakout, and Kevin Johnson is a very solid young corner. Somehow, even with talent the Texans manage to mess up. Hopefully they can return to the postseason and make a splash this year.
Tennessee Titans: Offseason Grade: B+, Best Record – 7-9, Worst Record – 4-12
The Titans will most likely not do much this season in terms of wins, but they have indeed made strides for the future this offseason. Signing Demarco Murray and drafting Derrick Henry (Even though I’m not very high on Henry) could create one of the best backfields in the NFL. A young offensive line including Taylor Lewan, Chance Warmack, and first round selection Jack Conklin could help Demarco Murray to have a bounce back season, and Henry a solid rookie campaign. Marcus Mariota should be able to continue his progression nicely this year, and throw to Delanie Walker, Kendall Wright, and Dorial-Green Beckham. Even with all this offensive talent, the defense is still a big question mark. They drafted a good nose tackle in Austin Johnson, and a great edge rusher Kevin Dodd. Also, there is certainly some talent on the Titans D in Brian Orakpo, Jurell Casey, and Jason Mccourty. The Titans will most likely be at the bottom of the league this season because they have talent, just not the talent that racks up consistent wins.