Aug 5, 2010

Under Further Review: AFC South

Day 278

So the big NFL news is that Brett Favre retired. Or did he? I love Brett, I have always loved Brett but I am getting a bit tired of this, especially if he comes back. So I am going to do that NFC North division last since I am about 88% sure he will be playing. But enough about Brett, let's talk about one of the most underrated and toughest divisions in football. The fun AFC South division!

The AFC South division just may the hardest division to call. Any of the teams could be in the playoffs, no longer do the Colts have an easy ride to another division title. And perhaps, the Colts just might have to play the last week of the NFL season now that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodel has made a significant change for the last regular season games.

Every last game of the regular season will be a divisional opponent, a move that I fully applaud. I am not the type of guy that likes resting players for a full game (unless they have obvious injuries). I don't like messing with chemistry and consistency. If you are on a roll why stop? Personally, I don't think it is fair to the players to rest a full/half game and it is not fair to the paying fans watching the games in person. I don't think it is fair to the other teams too. Now I don't mind if coaches slowly took some players out of the game in the 4th quarter or if they let some of the other backup players have an extended role but I don't like players taking a full game (or more) off. There is not much that the NFL could do about this but I think this change will indeed help teams from phoning it in. Divisional games usually are the most hard fought and critical and are the games that matter for playoff positioning.

Only a few games look like they may not matter this season. The Jets/Bills game could mean nothing, the Steelers/Browns might not be worth anything either but it is possible that EACH game could have potential playoff positioning. It may come right down to the last game to decide if a team is in or out and I wouldn't want it either way. Every season has a surprise team and who knows, maybe the winner of the Vikings/Lions game determines the NFC North champion. Probably not, but I love that the NFL has positioned divisional rivalries as the season finales. It should mean everything for each one of the NFL franchises.


1) Indianapolis Colts

What I Like:
 The Colts will want to revenge thier SuperBowl loss and will play with a chip on their shoulder. As long as QB Peyton Manning is healthy, the Colts will be dangerous. We all thought that the passing game would suffer when WR Anthony Gonzales went down in a season ending injury in Week 2 but the Colts proved everyone wrong with the likes of Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon easily filled his shoes. Can you imagine having all those receivers, along with TE Dallas Clark on the field at the same time? Even though the Saints showed that the Colts are beatable, it will still be very difficult to beat these Colts.

What I Don't Like: The Colts were almost dead last in running the ball and I don't like teams that cannot run the ball. The Colts have showed success without a decent running game but opposing defenses will study the game tape and force Manning to make mistakes. The Colts defense will be tough but will really need to step it up so the game doesn't fall completely on Manning's shoulders. Their linebacking corp is the weakest area and look for opposing offenses to zero in on that. It will be interesting to see how the Colts will react when they don't have the division all sewed up by Week 12. This could be quite the dogfight right to the end.

2) Houston Texans

What I Like:
Houston is a team that is on the move. Last year was their first winning season in franchise history and look for the Texans to give the Colts a hard time in a tough division and perhaps score a playoff spot. Head Coach Gary Kubiak is only a few pieces away from having a team that can compete with the best of the AFC. If Schaub stays healthy I expect some monster numbers from him and stud receiver Andre Johnson. The Texans could have one of the best offensive lines in the AFC but will need to protect as well as open up holes for their running game.

What I Don't Like:
The Texans running game is something that concerns me but the Texans did address this position in the draft but it might take some time for a rookie to grasp the position. Running back Steve Slaton still has some left in the tank but will it be enough to help the passing game? Time will tell. Time will tell too on Houston's secondary which is unproven and could be a weak spot.

3) Tennessee Titans

What I Like:
Any team that starts 0-6 and finishes the season 8-2 deserves some major respect. The Titans are a team to be reckoned with and look to begin the season as great as they finished it. The Titans will be in every game with the fantastic running of RB Chris Johnson. Even if opposing defenses stack eight men in the box to stop the running game, they will have their hands full. The Titans also have the ability to keep opposing offenses in check.

What I Don't Like:
Which Vince Young are the Titans going to get? Are they going to get the guy that went 8-2 to finish off last year or are they going to get the player he was the year before last? It is no question that Young is extremely talented but can he keep it together for a full season? It will all come down to his performance because the QB position is so critical.

4) Jacksonville Jaguars

What I Like:
The Jaguars offense will all be about RB Maurice Jones-Drew and how to get the ball into his hands. And when he is not on the field, backup RB Rashad Jennings could give opponents potential fits. QB David Garrard has some good wide receivers that can take the load of the power running game but Garrard needs to be a playmaker instead of just managing the offense. The Jags have the potential of making a run to the playoffs but they are one of the NFL's greatest mysteries. They could sneak right up on opponents but then they could lay down like a kitten.

What I Don't Like:
I don't like mysteries. Like I said, the Jags should be able to push for a playoff spot but there are too many "what if's" on this team. I am more concerned about the Jags defense. They need some major improvement in the defensive line and the safety position. But they are filled with some youngsters that are only going to get better. But when they hit their stride (that is if they hit their stride) is what could be key. QB Garrard knows that this is his last chance with the Jaguars and that could mean he might be on a short leash which could be too much pressure.

NEXT WEEK: I head out to the east coast for some bagels and pizza and a visit to the NFC East division. I will also discuss what changes (if any) should occur with the current overtime rules.

1 comment:

  1. Sweet blog my cousin! I may have to steal this idea and write about upcoming seasons and teams. I have to agree on the Colts with the chip on their shoulder. Peyton has GOT to be itching to "get 'r done!" again.