1) 1) Jacksonville Jaguars – Jack of the River has gone from being on the hot seat to being able to do whatever he wants – our “sources” indicate that he frequently orders staffers to bite down on the handles of wooden spoons, fill the spoons with ketchup and then do jumping jacks. It’s amazing how success can alter opinion. This team is solid throughout. Last year, Del Rio took what many regarded as a huge chance by letting the incumbent starter go (Leftwich) in favor of a lesser known performer (sound familiar). His gamble paid off and the team flourished under Garrard. Interesting note that really has nothing to do with the present Jax team, but Al Harris said without a doubt, the hardest WR he’s ever had to cover was Jimmy Smith. That guy was good. 11-5.
2) 2) Indianapolis Colts – To me, it’s a bit hard to believe that Indy is just a couple seasons removed from a Super Bowl victory. This team seems to be quite a bit different now even though a good number of the players from the SB are still on the team. The loss of Jeff Saturday hurts – I’ll bet that guy was a great college player but seems one day shy of being a great pro. Anyway, this team goes as Bob Sanders goes and considering Sanders has left the team to be the D-Coordinator for the Packers, the Colts could be in trouble. 10-6.
3) 3) Houston Texans – Houston is the Arizona of the AFC. For years I have been waiting for Arizona to stop being crappy and for years, they crappify, as it were. Houston finally has some legit players and made the wise decision to let Mike Sherman go back to college coaching. Their defense has improved (Ryans, Williams, the unheraled Dunta Robinson). On offense, the Texans, could be really, really good. Even though Ahman Green is there, the surprise of 2008 will be Steve Slaton (if he can stay injury-free). This guy is a winner who loves the end zone. Andre Johnson, Wisconsin’s own Owen Daniels and Matt Schaub, if they all remain healthy, could also lead a high-powered passing game. This is a team that could finally pave their own way and ride momentum right into the playoffs. But it is also a team that struggles against their own short history. They may need to wait for the fall or at least fade of the Colts or the Jags before they really contend. 9-7.
4) 4) Tennessee Titans – it’s hard to pick against the Titans and Jeff Fisher. They have talent, a solid defense, and a winner of a quarterback. Vince Young may not deliver great stats and some accuse him of having thin skin, but the fact is, the guy wants to win…badly. LenDale White turned out to be somewhat of a surprise to me last year – I thought he would be a relatively ineffective fat ass (sorry, preseason last year, he wasn’t looking very running back-like). But he was good and remains a threat this year. And, throw in the speedy Chris Johnson and the team’s running game looks poised to be solid. So, why do I put them at the bottom of the AFC South? Sometimes when someone has the combination traits of being extremely competitive and being thin-skinned, it can lead to some inner-team turmoil. I expect a couple of tough losses to derail an otherwise decent team. You’ll know that things are starting to go downhill when Fisher forgets about getting a haircut and the mullet reappears. 7-9