(Preface to my annual picks…I don’t add up the exact wins/losses so everything works out perfectly. I am simply predicting rough record estimates for each team.)
- Houston 10-6
- Indy 8-8
- Jax 8-8
- Tenn 6-10
This division is difficult to predict this year. I had to go through a process of elimination to come up with a winner. With Manning seemingly not 100% (with a scary kind of injury no less – the neck) and the Colts in a general decline it seems like it’s finally a year when another team could win the AFC South. I contemplated taking a flier on Jax but I just don’t think they’ll swing it this year. (Though I must say they are flying way under the radar right now so they won’t be adversely affected by pressure.) And I think some folks may end up thinking Tenn could be good now that they have Hasselbeck – but I think he could make them worse. Also, the Chris Johnson holdout situation is ugly – a hamstring injury a certainty if he does return. That leaves Houston. The Texans better hope Arian Foster overcomes a nagging hamstring injury and they better hope that FB James Casey can fill in at least somewhat for the departed Vonta Leach – who had been a key piece of their running game. But where the Texans may have improved some is on defense – and that’s where they needed to improve. They’ve added Jonathan Joseph and Danieal Manning to a secondary that was in desperate need of upgrade. But most impressive to me is their linebacking group in their new 3-4: Connor Barwin, DeMeco Ryans, Brian Cushing and Mario Williams. Even if it takes some time for Williams to adapt to playing LB, this is an impressive group.