Possibly the weakest division in the AFC, however with some major fantasy football talent, it also is one of the most exciting to watch. The AFC South produced three .500 or above teams in 2016, and boasts teams with hearty offensive lines, beast-like defensive lines, and a quarterback with potential to post huge numbers at any given time. What will this season look like in 2017 for this division? Fantasy Fumble Fanatics; The AFC South Breakdown.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Record prediction 5-11)
Let’s start with the obvious. Poor Jacksonville has been in an uphill battle since 2007 when they posted their last winning record. After bringing in Blake Bortles in 2014, hope was high for Jaguar fans. Unfortunately, due to a lack of weapons on offense, an offensive line that just can’t seem to find a groove, and an absolute dumpster fire as a quarterback, Jacksonville hasn’t been able to accomplish anything. The last two seasons, Bortles has thrown for over 3,000 yards, but has failed time and time again to lead the Jags to wins.
The Jags may have had a small victory this year in the draft by acquiring Leonard Fournette who promises to be a productive NFL running back. Unfortunately for Fournette, his career is going to be rife with extreme challenges and endless disadvantages being on this Jaguars team. The offensive line is crumbling, the quarterback situation is dire, and while the expectations of the team are low, the expectations for him are extremely high. 2017 will be another year of trials and tribulations for this struggling franchise.
Indianapolis Colts (Record prediction 8-8….again)
The Colts have had an interesting 5 seasons since the arrival of Andrew Luck. Replacing an injured and declining Peyton Manning, Luck had some big shoes to fill and, at first, it looked like he would. In the first three seasons, Luck continued to improve and take his team deeper and deeper into the playoffs. Leading huge comebacks and managing an offense that was able to stretch the field and score on the long ball at any given time. Unfortunately for Colts fans, they have witnessed their next star quarterback slide into a decline the last two seasons. This can be attributed to many things, including an injury plagued 2015 season which led to offseason surgery after the 2016 mediocre 8-8 campaign. The Colts are starting this season without the highest paid player in the league and this does not bode well for their season.
The last two seasons, Indy has gone 8-8 and missed the playoffs. While the Colts are not a team to completely write-off it is going to be very hard for the franchise to keep themselves in the race this season. With Luck still being injury prone and a disappointing roster of offensive weapons, the Colts will have to put the pedal to the metal at the end 2017 for any hope at a playoff berth.
Houston Texans (Record prediction 9-7)
Last year the Houston Texans battled their way to a 9-7 record and secured a spot in the playoffs despite the horrendous year of the highly touted (and highly paid) quarterback Brock Osweiler. On the back of their defensive line, the Texans reached the playoffs and beat a Derek Carr-less Oakland Raiders team in the wild card game. Then the Texans went on to give a frustrated and under pressured Tom Brady a little bit of trouble in the divisional playoff game. The Texans looked through a large scope during the draft looking to bolster a lot of spots on their roster starting with QB. Deshaun Watson, quarterback from Clemson, was the Texas first overall pick at number 12 in the 2017 draft, yet he will most likely not be the starting QB come Week 1.
That job belongs to 4-year Texans backup QB Tom Savage. The coaching staff, as well as front office have liked the way Savage has played this camp, and so far in the preseason. Although they have not completely ruled out Watson from playing in certain situations, it is clear that Tom Savage will be the starter for the Texans come Week 1. With the confusion at QB and questionable offensive weapons it is not crazy to assume the Texans will struggle this season, but with a starting QB familiar with the system and a defensive line that is arguably one of the best in the NFL. I see this division to be just out of grasp for the Texans.
Tennessee Titans (Record prediction 11-5)
The Tennessee Titans are becoming a force to be reckoned with in the AFC South. DeMarco Murray continues to prove why he belongs as a starting RB in the NFL and Marcus Mariota is facing a year where he can cement himself as a legitimate starting QB in the NFL. With arguably the best offensive line in the NFL and one of the most sturdy and stalwart running backs the league has to offer, Mariota will be poised to prove that he can do more than hang on to a lead and make some big plays a few times a game. Being in the AFC South is a huge advantage this year for Tennessee seeing as the opposing teams, while not being complete pushover’s (see NFC West Breakdown) are not the sturdiest competition in the league. The Titans defense is going to need to step up this year and hold some pretty decent teams to manageable offensive production, but the Titans offense will be looking to put the pedal to the metal and really show what they are capable of with the grinding of DeMarco Murray, the steady consistency of Delanie Walker, and the explosive and ever improving Marcus Mariota.
Given the weak division they are in and the potential to score points when needed I see the Titans steam rolling the AFC South. What is to become of them in the playoffs is still to be seen, but one thing is for certain… we will be seeing the Titans in the playoffs this year. Fantasy Fumble fanatics, Eric Sanino is going out on a limb with a bold prediction. Tennessee will go undefeated in their division, and appear in the divisional playoff game with a strong possibility of slipping into the conference championship as the dark horse of the AFC! This will be an exciting team to watch grow and prosper this season. Titans fans have plenty to look forward to in 2017!