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NFL season preview 2016: AFC South

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This is the 2016 NFL Season Preview of the AFC South. This division is essentially up for grabs. The Indianapolis Colts have been the popular pick for the past few seasons, mostly because of their QB Andrew Luck. However, the Houston Texans won last year and the Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars were arguably the two most improved teams in the league over the offseason. So without further ado, let’s get to the AFC South team previews.

Houston Texans

Even though the Texans won the division last year, no one seems to expect them to repeat. The Texans won the division because of their great defense led by Mr. All Everything, DE JJ Watt. During the offseason, the Texans made it a priority to add talent to their offense, and boy did they. They went out and signed Brock Osweiler to be their starting QB and Lamar Miller to be their starting QB. Then draft William Fuller and Braxton Miller to be their #2 and #3 WRs.

The main focal point of the team is to continue playing dominant defense while being much more of a threat on the other side of the ball. The Texans may not win the division, but it wouldn’t be because of lack of trying. Their front office has gone out and given Coach Bill O’Brien everything he needs to build a good long-term franchise. Now the only that is left for them is to go out and do it. No one has ever won a real division on paper.

Last Year Record 9-7
Vegas Win Prediction 8
My Prediction 9-7

Indianapolis Colts

Believe it or not, Indianapolis were my pick to go to the Superbowl last year. Needless to say, I was kind of off. The Colts have all the flash to win a Superbowl. They have the stud starting QB in Andrew Luck, the veteran in the backfield in Frank Gore, a great group of young WRs in TY Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett, and Dwayne Allen. They don’t have too many great pieces on defense, but they can be average.

The big elephant in the room with the Colts is their offensive line. The Colts know their issue, and that’s why they went out and drafted four offensive linemen. The problem is, they are rookies, and still aren’t good yet. The Colts may be 1 of those teams that are better at the end of the year than they will be at the beginning of the year, but they need to hope they don’t get off to too bad of a start, or it may be a hill too steep for them to climb.

Last Year Record 8-8
Vegas Win Prediction 9
My Prediction 9-7

Jacksonville Jaguars

By most accounts, the Jaguars are the most improved team in the division and maybe the most improved in the league. One thing that has never been a problem was their offense. Between QB Blake Bortles, WRs Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, TE Julius Thomas, and RBs TJ Yeldon, with the newly acquired Chris Ivory, the Jaguars offense is a top 5 group IMO.

The improvements they made on defense include two starts studded rookies in CB Jalen Ramsey and LB Myles Jack. But they also went out and spent money to bring in DT Malik Jackson and FS Tashaun Gipson.

One other player of note is their 2015 1st round pick, DE Dante Fowler, who is a big time pass rusher. The only thing holding this team back is youth and chemistry, but regarding talent, they may be the most talented team in the division. They are possibly a year away from being a legitimate contender.

Last Year Record 5-11
Vegas Win Prediction 6.5
My Prediction 7-9

Tennessee Titans

The Titans will be employing an offense that Head Coach Mike Mularky calls “Exotic Smashmouth.” In essence, what it mean if they are going to run it down your throat with their two monster RBs in DeMarco Murray and the manchild, Derrick Henry. But where does the exotic part come in? That lies in their 2015 1st round draft pick, QB Marcus Mariota.  From the early looks of it, seems Mariota has done with previous Titans QBs didn’t do, put in the offseason work to improve.

In the preseason, the trio of Mariota, Murray, and Henry didn’t disappoint, but the defense still is. Granted, we still haven’t seen both starting CBs Jason McCourty and Perrish Cox on the field at the same time, but the Titans back end needs to play better. With them having two 1st round picks next year, this will be a put up or shut up year for more than a few players on this team.

Last Year Record 3-13
Vegas Win Prediction 5.5
My Prediction 7-9

Can the Texans defy the odds and win the AFC South back to back? Can Andrew Luck stay upright long enough to carry the Colts back into the playoffs? Are the Jaguars going the show progress with arguably the most talented team in the division? Will “Exotic Smashmouth” be the new trend in the league? All of these questions will be answered during the 2016 NFL Season.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com