It was a year of ups and downs for the AFC South in 2013. A few teams showed promise, and other were historically bad. In 2014 is there any real team to challenge the Colts?
1. Colts 10-6 (Division Champs)
There really is not much to say other than the Colts are the clear favorite. They are the most talented and best prepared team to win this division again, and they will. Offensively they are dynamite with Andrew Luck and his weapons. He gets bakc healthy Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen to add to emerging T.Y. Hilton and nerwly acquired Hakeem Nicks. Their only point of contention is the horrific run game shown by Trent Richardson. If he cannot get it going again, it is going to be tough to throw against nickel/dime defenses all year for luck.
Defensively things are not so good for the Colts. They lack significant despite a few nice signings this offseason. Without Robert Mathis for the first four games, their weak pass rush will struggle only more. I hope for their sake the back end can pick up the slack. A tough schedule should take some of the wind out of the sails, but Indy is primed for the playoffs once again in 2014.
2. Titans 7-9
The Titans should have a shot to compete this season. Their offense will rely on the health of Jake Locker. If he is hurt, I do not believe the answer is on this roster. However, they have surrounded him with good talent like Justin Hunter, Kendall Wright, Delanie Walker, and Bishop Sankey. More importanly, they have a competent starting offensive line to help keep him upright and healthy this year. A lack of consistency on Locker's part, and his health questions make it hard to count on Tennessee this year.
On defense, this strong unit from a year ago looks like it may regress. They lost their top playmaker in Alterraun Verner. They cannot get a consistent pass rush andf have not helped solve that problem. The biggest problem is a switch to a hybrid 3-4 scheme, which should bring with it a natural learning curve. There will be many highs and lows for the Titans in 2014.
3. Texans 6-10
The Texans have to improve from last season. Their only problem is they did not fix their glaring hole at the quarterback position. They did commit, however, to long term fixes on defense by drafting stud lineman Jadeveon Clowney. He, next to Watt, should figure to be a formidable defensive front in this league.
Offense should see struggles once again. There is not a clear cut favorite quarterback, Andre Johnson is playing unhappy, and Arian Foster is once again playing hurt. There is not a whole lot to love in Houston. I see small improvements, but without a change at the quarterback position, there will be no real growth.
4. Jaguars 5-11
The only legit part of the Jaguars is their defense. Gus Bradley is a good coach and they have the personnel to get the job done. They showed glimpses of greatness last year against the Broncos, but they still struggle with pass rush and consistency. Bradley should fix that with his new scheme.
Offensively, things look bad once again. Henne is the quarterback with impressive rookie Bortles waiting benchside. Toby Gerhart is the new running back, but he is totally unproven. Justin Blackmon is ocne again suspended, and their best other receiver is an ijury plagued Cecil Shorts. The rookie wide receiver tandem of Lee and Robinson show promise, but not enough to help in 2014.