A rundown of the AFC South, with analysis of each team, stats on key players, and record predictions.
The Colts carried a nine-game winning streak into the playoffs last season, only to fall at the hands of the San Diego Chargers 23-17 in overtime. A sad end to a very promising season, but Peyton Manning and company hope to add a new chapter (and hopefully a Super Bowl title) to the Colts’ book. They picked up speedy rusher Donald Brown in the draft and cut future hall-of-famer Marvin Harrison during the off season. The hope is that youngster Anthony Gonzalez can take the reigns as the #2 wideout alongside Reggie Wayne.
QB: Peyton Manning – 4,002 passing yards, 27 TDs, 12 INTs, 95.0 QB Rating
WR: Reggie Wayne – 82 Receptions, 1,145 yards, 6 TDs,
TE: Dallas Clark – 77 Receptions, 848 yards, 6 TDs.
Projected Record: 11-5
The Titans were one of the best stories in the NFL last year in winning their first ten games before a November 23rd 34-13 shellacking at the hands of the New York Jets. There is no doubt in my mind that the Titans strongly over performed last year and are due for a let down, albeit not a melt down. How long can aging quarterback Kerry Collins carry the load before the team needs to look for Vince Young to prove that he’s still got it? The Titans don’t have a star wideout, but they do have one of the most exciting running backs in the NFL in Chris Johnson. They also have newly svelte LenDale White, who can snatch Tennessee short yardage touchdowns like an international jewel thief.
QB: Kerry Collins – 2,676 passing yards, 12 TDs, 7 INTs, 80.2 QB Rating
WR: Justin Gage – 34 Receptions, 651 yards, 6 TDs
RB: Chris Johnson – 251 attempts, 1,228 rush yards 9 TDs
Projected Finish: 10-6
Houston was one of the biggest disappointments of the ’08 season. With quarterback Matt Schaub at the helm, Andre Johnson (by far the best receiver in football), and surprise rookie running back Steve Slaton, the Texans had the third ranked offense in the NFL. Due to their twenty-second ranked defense and the fact that they gave up the twenty-seventh most points, the Texans only managed an 8-8 record. This franchise has never won more than eight games, and expectations are at an all-time high. If the defense can find a way to at least bend and not break and all of the offensive weapons come back in full force, the Texans definitely have the look of a playoff team.
QB: Matt Schaub – 3.043 passing yards, 15 TDs, 10 INTs, 92.7 QB Rating
RB: Steve Slaton – 268 attempts, 1,282 rush yards, 9 TDs,
WR: Andre Johnson – 115 receptions, 1,575 receiving yards, 8 TDs
Projected Finish 10-6
The Jaguars had a tough go of it last year playing in such a stacked division. Jacksonville, an eleven win playoff team in ’07, negatively switched it up and went 5-11 last season, including 2-6 at home. One of the lowest scoring teams in the NFL last year, the Jags hope that the addition of Torry Holt and the maturation of Maurice Jones-Drew will be enough to get them out of the basement in the AFC South. Now is the time for David Garrard to prove that he is the leader that the Jaguars expected when they dumped Byron Leftwich in 2006. He needs to rise to a new level, especially after the loss of exciting playmaker Matt Jones. The Jaguars could easily be a surprise team this year; after all, nobody expected the Titans to win their first 10 games last season.
QB: David Garrard – 3.620 passing yards, 15 TDs, 13 INTs, 81.7 QB Rating
WR: Torry Holt – 64 receptions, 796 receiving yards, 3 TDs
RB: Maurice Jones-Drew – 197 attempts, 824 rushing yards, 12 TDs
Projected Finish 7-9
30 year old freelance writer and The Father Life‘s resident beer columnist and sports editor. He also writes about fine beverages for drinkingmadeeasy.com and Chilled Magazine. On top of that, he writes about college and professional lacrosse for insidelacrosse.com. He’s also written for Genesee Valley Parenting Magazine, the Democrat and Chronicle Newspaper and ESPN.com. “Osburn on Tap” appears monthly in THE FATHER LIFE. For questions, comments, or if you have a story idea for Chris, throw him an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on twitter http://www.twitter.com/chrisosburn