RaiderRamble.com will now predict who’ll win the AFC South with some insight from another excellent roundtable
After Raider Ramble’s somewhat controversial pick in last week’s preview of the AFC West, we now turn our attentions to the AFC South. After finishing a combined 29-35, only two other divisions (NFC West & AFC North) finished with a worse combined record. However, it seems like this division is brimming with talent and perhaps this will be the season its teams put it all together. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable offseason moves made by each team.
Jacksonville signed some big defensive names during free agency such as defensive tackle Calais Campbell, safety Barry Church, and swiped Houston Texans’ corner A.J. Bouye. The defense wasn’t the only side of the ball that saw new faces as the Jags also selected big name running back Leonard Fournette. Moreover, head coach Gus Bradley got the boot after four seasons with the Jaguars and was replaced by Doug Marrone.
Perhaps the most significant Colts’ loss during the offseason was their tight end, Dwayne Allen. After the Colts 2016 defensive campaign had landed them ranking 30th overall amongst NFL defenses, their need for help on that side of the ball was apparent. They started their defensive overhaul in the draft by taking safety Malik Hooker in the first round, corner Quincy Wilson in the second one and linebacker Darrell Basham in the round three
After properly “fudging up” their deal with quarterback Brock Osweiler, the best thing the Texans’ did during the offseason was show him the door. It looks like the Texans are looking to rebound after choosing Clemson star quarterback Deshaun Watson in round one of the NFL draft. Even though Houston had the top ranked defense in the league according to NFL.com last season, they may have taken a hit with the loss of Bouye and safety Quintin Demps.
The most head scratching offseason move the Titans may have made was when they decided to choose Western Michigan receiver Corey Davis with the 5th overall pick in the NFL draft. While it is good for the Titans to surround their young star quarterback with talent; many question if Corey Davis was the right piece with other big name receivers like Mike Williams or John Ross on the board. The Titans also added jack-of-all-trades USC playmaker Adoree’ Jackson.
Micah Schneidermann: Houston Texans
I think the Texans’ defense will still be “Top 5” in 2017, and does anyone believe Brandon Weeden or Tom Savage are better options than DeShaun Watson at this point? I think Watson storms the field after a lackluster 1-2 start by either Weeden or Savage or a combo of the two and leads the Texans on a 9-7 campaign. To add a cherry on top, they will knock off the Colts in Indianapolis for their final game to steal the AFC South crown. The Colts and Titans will scrap for a wild card spot, and the Jags will FINALLY realize Blake Bortles isn’t the answer.
Carlos Sanchez: Tennesse Titans
Their exotic smashmouth approach wore their opponents down and made them pay for using nickel and dime packages last season. Not to stay stagnant, they added more receivers to bring another dimension to their offense. In between their running game, more reliable receivers and a more mature Marcus Mariota, the Titans are ready to seize the AFC South. I am looking forward to seeing how they deploy their newest receivers. The Jaguars and the Texans might keep things interesting, but this is the year general manager John Robinson’s team-building philosophy pays off.
Billy Bologna: Houston Texans
The AFC South will be the most ‘up for grabs’ division in all of football this upcoming season. My selection to win the division is a team similar to my beloved New York Jets of the early Rex Ryan days. The Houston Texans, except for their quarterback, are one of the most well-rounded teams in all of football. Much like the 09-10 Jets, the Texans defense could be the most dominant unit in the league this upcoming season. Featuring two elite pass-rushers in J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, the rest of the defense automatically becomes better as their mistakes may not be highlighted; much like how Revis did for the Jets defense. The one thing that will hold Houston back is a lack of experience at quarterback. Although, with a star receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and other reliable weapons like Lamar Miller, Will Fuller, and C.J Fiedorowicz, whoever is taking snaps for Houston will be surrounded by all of the right pieces. Even if Watson or Savage is unable to perform consistently, a plethora of talent on other parts of the field will elevate this team to a 10-6 record and atop the AFC South.
Hesham Sobh: Tennesse Titans
I believe the Titans will win this division based on the fact that Mariota has weapons on his offense now along with a strong run game. If he rehabs well with this ankle injury, he can lead this team to a playoff game. Houston would be my runner up, though I have questions as to who will be the starting quarterback and if Watson is ready to handle this O’Brien offense. I can’t see the Colts making the playoffs without a healthy Andrew Luck and the way this off season has been progressing it might take him longer than usual to get back to his old self. The Jags won’t be competitive unless Bortles takes a step forward and shows that he has what it takes to make throws and timely decisions.
Scott Winter: Tennesse Titans
The Titan’s offense added talent this off season with the addition of veteran Eric Decker and 5th overall draft selection Corey Davis. Decker brings all the qualities that a young quarterback needs and Corey Davis should give Marcus Mariota a real number one wide out; as long as he lives up to expectations. Let’s also not forget that DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry are a fearsome 1-2 punch in the running game, and Delanie Walker is showing no signs of age at the tight end position. Then there is that offensive line. Jack Conklin exceeded expectations at right tackle, and Taylor Lewan continues to dominate at left tackle. All this will continue to allow Marcus Mariota to take his quarterback game to new heights. I predict this will be the best offense in the AFC South and one of the best in the NFL.
General manager Jon Robinson is building this team for the long run, and this year should see a fantastic harvest! All of that and with consideration of their rivals, is why I am choosing the Titans to win the AFC South.