The NFL season is now just 17 days away from kicking off on September 5, when the Dallas Cowboys face the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants. As the season continues to draw closer, we will be continuing to preview the NFL's divisions. Last week, we previewed the AFC East; today we will take a look at the AFC South.
After nine seasons without a playoff appearance, the Houston Texans were finally able to break through last season, winning the AFC South with a 10-6 record. The team was riddled with injuries last year, with many of the team's biggest stars missing a significant amount of time. Houston returns with many of their key players this season; the most notable exception is DE Mario Williams, who signed with Buffalo.
Projection: If the Texans can stay away from the injury bug, most notably QB Matt Schaub and RB Arian Foster, they should be able to take home the division crown.
The Colts have all but owned the AFC South for the past decade, but last season the team epically struggled to a 2-14 record thanks to a season-ending injury to QB Peyton Manning. Now, Manning is in Denver and the Colts look to rookie QB Andrew Luck to lead the way. The team cut ties with many of its players in the offseason and will be a very different-looking team than they were just a few seasons ago.
Projection: Watching the development of Andrew Luck will be exciting for Colts fans, but they will most likely not see very many wins.
Top Jaguars Games of 2012
The Jaguars have struggled in recent years, but they still have one thing that NFL franchises dream of having: an all-everything running back. Maurice Jones-Drew led the NFL in rushing yards in 2011 (1,606 yards), breaking Jaguars franchise records in both rushing yards and yards from scrimmage. Jones-Drew is currently holding out of training camp in hopes of securing a new contract. Without Jones-Drew, the Jags would have no shot.
Projection: The Jaguars will go only as far as QB Blaine Gabbert takes them, and in 2012, chances are that is not very far.
Down in Tennessee, the Titans are excited about their prospects in 2012. They have an All-Pro running back in Chris Johnson and recently announced second-year QB Jake Locker as their starter. Locker beat out veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck for the job, but if Locker struggles, the Titans will have a good back-up plan in place.
Projection: The Titans have a very talented team both on offense and defense, but they will be relying on an inexperienced quarterback to lead them. Look for Tennessee to finish 2012 somewhere around .500.