AFC South Divisional Rankings

Houston Texans

Offense: The Texans’ offense is heavily dependent on its rushing attack. Led by Arian Foster, it has been a top unit in the league for a while. In 2012, the Texans vaunted rushing attack lost some effectiveness; ending the year as an average unit. Though there is some cause for concern, it’s likely that Arian Foster and company will bounce back next season. Foster has been dealing with a calf injury but backup Ben Tate is more than capable of being an effective starter should Foster miss any games. In fact, Ben Tate could start at RB for some other teams. As has been said, the Texans’ offense has long been focused on rushing the football. However, their passing game is also solid. While Matt Schaub won’t be mistaken for Aaron Rodgers, he can get the ball to Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and talented rookie DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans have a solid group of runners, receivers, and offensive linemen.

Defense: When you think of the Texans’ defense, you should think of J.J. Watt. He is arguably the premier DE in the NFL who had a historic season last year. In fact, he won NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Texans get back their star linebacker Brian Cushing who tore his ACL last season. In the secondary, the Texans added veteran Ed Reed and drafted strong insurance policy D.J. Swearinger. It looks like Swearinger will start while Reed rehabs his hip. Overall, the Texans’ defense is a top 5 unit against both the pass and the run and should continue to play at a high level.

Arian Foster

Arian Foster

Indianapolis Colts

Offense: The Colts’ offense boasts a lot of upside with Andrew Luck at the helm. Veteran WR Reggie Wayne anchors the WR group and young and explosive T.Y. Hilton should build upon his quality rookie year. The Colts also added deep threat Darrius Heyward-Bey via free agency. The Colts also have two TEs with significant potential in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. The Colts improved their RB situation by signing Ahmad Bradshaw in free agency. He is an instant upgrade on Vick Ballard and should have a productive season as long as his injuries don’t return.

Defense: The Colts’ defense needs to drastically improve. Their run defense was the worst in the NFL and their pass defense was bottom five. Only the Saints can be argued to have fielded a worse defense than the Colts last season. The Colts upgraded their secondary by signing SS LaRon Landry and signing CB Greg Toler. Vontae Davis is a top CB and will anchor the Colts’ secondary. The Colts’ hope their pass rush will be bolstered by first round draft pick Bjoern Werner and free agent addition Erik Walden. Werner is making the often-times difficult transition from DE to OLB. It remains to be seen whether the transition will go smoothly.

Andrew Luck

Andrew Luck

Tennessee Titans

Offense: The Titans’ offense has many explosive elements. Though he has been maligned recently, RB Chris Johnson is still a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. The addition of OL Andy Levitre and first round mauler Chance Warmack should only help him. Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and new addition Justin Hunter represent one of the youngest and most promising WR groups in the NFL. The Titans did lose prolific TE Jared Cook to free agency, replacing him with less prolific TE Delanie Walker. Walker may prove to be a better blocker, but he isn’t the same caliber of receiver as Cook. This may be the final season for Jake Locker to prove himself as a QB that can take his team to the playoffs. His accuracy has been a perpetual problem that limits the upside of the passing offense.

 Defense: The Titans’ defense is bottom half in both categories. Their run defense is worse than their pass defense. The Titans hope DL Ropati Pitoitua will help solidify their run defense. The addition of hard hitting SS Bernard Pollard should also help. The Titans’ pass defense has talent with FS Michael Griffin, CB Jason McCourty, CB Tommie Campbell and draft pick CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson. It’s likely that their pass defense will at least remain about average with some room for improvement.

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson

Jacksonville Jaguars

Offense: QB Blaine Gabbert has been completely ineffective thus far as an NFL starter. He is expected to beat out QB Chad Henne for the starting job but it remains to be seen if he will improve enough to remain with the team beyond 2014. RB Maurice Jones-Drew is fully healed after his Lisfranc injury and should vastly improve the Jaguars’ running game, which was weak without him. WRs Cecil Shorts had a spectacular rookie season while WR Justin Blackmon showed flashes but was largely inconsistent. Ultimately, the Jaguars’ offense is dependent upon Gabbert’s improvement as a QB.

Defense: Much like the offense, the Jaguars’ defense struggled severely last season. Their pass defense and run defense were equally poor. However, there is a tangible and reasonable expectation of improvement after offseason additions. For instance, DT Roy Miller was signed away from one of the top ranked run defenses (Tampa Bay) and thus should prove to be a noticeable asset for the Jaguars’ run defense. On the back end, the Jaguars drafted SS Johnathan Cyprien. Cyprien won MVP of OTAs and has the talent to emerge as a top player on the Jaguars’ defense and even become a top safety in the NFL. Drafted CB Dwayne Gratz is expected to start and has the pedigree to provide improvement to the secondary. Signed CB Alan Ball is also expected to start though he is more suited for a backup role. Expect the Jaguars’ secondary to be improved just by the presence of Cyprien.

Maurice Jones Drew

Maurice Jones Drew

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