05 Sep AFC South Preview
The last two weeks could not have gone better for the Texans. With the retirement of Andrew Luck, they jump to the top of the AROSE Online projected standings. The passing attack will be among the best in the league. Returning All-World receiver DeAndre Hopkins along with a healthy Will Fuller, Keke Coutee, and just for good measure newly acquired Kenny Stills, the versatility of this group is elite. The loss of Lamar Miller should not hurt (Career 4.1 YPC w/ Houston) as they added Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson to match any rushing or passing attack they would lose. The Texans are in win-now mode with the NFL being so wide open. Giving up a haul to add Laremy Tunsil gives legitimate protection for Deshaun Watson and allows 2019 1st Round pick, OT Tytus Howard, an opportunity to move inside to a guard position to adjust to the speed of the NFL. While trading away a 26-year-old, Pro-Bowl defensive lineman is not ideal, The Texans still have plenty of pieces to have a good if not very good defense. Lead by J.J. Watt and legit NFL veterans and former pro-bowlers, this defense will be able to get stops when it counts. The Texans are ready to make some noise in 2019.
Two questions will decide the fate of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Can Nick “Big Di*k” Foles actually play football outside of Philadelphia? Will Leonard Fournette finally put an entire season together? Foles in his last two extended stints with the Eagles won 20 of 26 regular-season games and went 4-1 in the playoffs including beating TB12 in Super Bowl LII. Foles has been labeled as a “winner” and this Jaguars team lost 6 games last season by 6 or fewer points. They need the clutch mentality. RB Leonard Fournette is an NFL STUD if healthy, but that seems like a mighty big IF, after missing half the season in 2018 and 3 games in 2017. The wide receiver corps is suspect, but Dede Westbrook looked like an emerging star in the preseason and should provide Foles with a reliable target. The defense should once again be a top-5 unit, if not better after adding top-3 prospect LB Josh Allen at 7 in this year’s draft.
The Colts are puzzling. Andrew Luck, a popular MVP pick, shook the league by retiring while being projected to win 10+ games and contend for a division title and possibly a Super Bowl. Indy believes in 26 year-old back-up QB Jacoby Brissett, as the news of Luck’s retirement could have prompted a fire-sale for veterans like T.Y. Hilton. Instead, they paid Brissett $30 Million over two years and will be trusting him with the keys to the franchise. The Colts have no glaring weaknesses, with a defense that is looking to build off a good 2018 and added 3 players in the first 3 rounds of the 2019 draft. The offensive line was revamped in 2018 and it showed as Luck and RB Marlon Mack had career years. Adding NFL veteran Devin Funchess to run opposite of T.Y. Hilton while keeping their TE combo of Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle gives Brissett options to throw too. My issue with the Colts is will they be able to win those 3-6 point games with time running down in the 4th. If so, they can still make a run at the division.
It is now or never for Mariota in Music City. Never having 30 Total TDs in a season, only 13 TDs last year, and a career 27-28 record, this could be his final shot to break into the great-to-elite QB range. The Titans are coming off three consecutive 9-7 seasons. They have a nasty defense that allowed the 3rd fewest points in the league in 2018 and a head coach that wants to win badly. They invested in getting Mariota more weapons by drafting WR A.J. Brown in the 2nd round of the draft and signing WR Adam Humphries. Derrick Henry looks to build off a monster final 4 games of 2018 where he rushed for 585 yards and 7 scores. The main concern for this team will be the effectiveness of their offensive line and their ability to keep Mariota upright and open running lanes for their RB group, as well as Mariota. Unfortunately for Titans, they are without there best offensive lineman, Taylor Lewan, for the first 4 games of 2019. I don’t see much going right for Mariota and the boys, and while the defense will keep them in games I can’t see them making a run in the division. Love the city of Nashville, but do not love this team.