2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: AFC South (Yanotchko)
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Here are my predictions for the AFC South in 2013:
1. Houston Texans (schedule): 11-5
The Texans will look to make even more strides as they have won two playoff games in the last two years, but have flamed out in the divisional round the last two years as well.
With Arian Foster, Owen Daniels, Matt Schaub, and All Pro Andre Johnson, Houston has one of the most balanced offenses in the league. The Texans will always put up the points, but is this the year that the defense stays healthy and clamps down? The Texans are led by arguably the best defensive player in the game in J.J. Watt, and now they have added perennial All Pro Ed Reed, and will also have Brian Cushing healthy to start the season.
The Texans are in the window of a championship run, and they will win the South going away, but they will have their sights set on a deep playoff run this year.
2. Indianapolis Colts (schedule): 9-7
The Colts were the surprise team of last year, as stellar rookie Andrew Luck pulled up the previous year's last-place finishers into a playoff berth. I believe that the Colts will be taking a step back this year, as they will be facing a second-place schedule, and they can't sneak up on anyone this year.
Their passing game will get a boost with burner Darius Heyward-Bey joining Reggie Wayne and T.Y. Hilton, and they have also boosted their rushing attack by adding the solid Ahmad Bradshaw in free agency. The Colts will be looking to improve their defensive unit by adding LaRon Landry to the secondary, but they have left their pass rusher supreme in Dwight Freeney to depart to San Diego. Although the Colts are still an improving team, I think there are still too many questions about the offensive line, and also they still have too many holes in their front seven on defense.
The Colts will be taking a minor step back this year, and will miss the playoffs.
3. Tennessee Titans (schedule): 6-10
Looking to improve upon a lackluster 2012 year, the Titans boosted their run game by adding Shonn Greene and a road-grading offensive guard in Chance Warmack. The Titans fell short on defense last year, as they allowed the most points per game, and didn't add anything spectacular except for Bernard Pollard. The Titans coached by Mike Munchak will feature a run-first offense, as the passing game led by Jake Locker is still far from being good. The Titans do have the weapons to put points on the board with Chris Johnson, Kenny Britt and Kendall Wright, but they will need the defense to step up and help out this year.
The Titans are still a few good players away from contending, but they will be in a lot more games this year than last.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (schedule): 5-11
I am higher on Jacksonville than most people, but hopefully their style of play will not match their new helmet design, which is atrocious.
The Jaguars will get a boost by getting All Pro running back Maurice Jones-Drew back from a Lisfranc injury, but Blaine Gabbert is still the starting quarterback. The Jaguars will employ a very fun shifting offense, as they will look to use both multi-purpose weapons they drafted this year in Denard Robinson and Ace Sanders. The Jaguars are still a defense in flux, but they do have a steady anchor in the middle with Paul Posluszny, but they will need time for an almost entirely new secondary time to gel.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.