2011 AFC South Preview & Predictions
Let’s be honest here, we all know the Colts are a 4-12 team without Peyton Manning. The last time Manning missed preseason snaps was in 2008 and he and the Colts got off to a rocky start that season. The 2011 season looks eerily similar to that 2008 season as Manning isn’t expected to make an appearance during the preseason. The Colts can’t afford to get off to another slow start, especially opening up against the Texans, everyone’s sexy pick to win the division including mine. I’m not crazy enough to totally bet against Peyton Manning, but his supporting cast makes it hard for me to put my faith in them once again.
Key Arrivals – Tommie Harris, Ernie Sims, Jamaal Anderson, Dan Orlovsky
Key Departures – Bob Sanders, Kelvin Hayden, Clint Session, Mike Hart, Ken Hamlin, Aaron Francisco
Prediction – 10-6/Second in AFC South
Ah, the Texans. It seems every year the Texans are the sexy pick to win the division and every year they under-achieve, well not this year. The 2011 season will finally be the season the Texans overtake the Colts and plant themselves atop the AFC South for the foreseeable future. Why is this year any different from years past? Well, the Texans’ glaring issue the previous few years has been their porous secondary and overall inexperience and lack of consistency on defense. New defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has been brought in to fix that very issue, which he has a history of doing (see: Buffalo Bills and Denver Broncos). The Texans also upgraded on the field as well, bringing in stud corner Johnathan Joseph and veteran safety Danieal Manning. I think this is the year it all comes together for the Texans because if not, Kubiak is gone.
Key Arrivals – Johnathan Joseph, Tim Dobbins, Lawrence Vickers, Brad Maynard, Danieal Manning
Key Departures – Amobi Okoye, David Anderson, Dan Orlovsky, Bernard Pollard, Kevin Bentley, Zac Diles, Vonta Leach, Matt Turk, Eugene Wilson
Prediction – 11-5/First in AFC South
The Jags are definitely a hard-nosed, gritty bunch on both offense and defense. You won’t see much flare in their play as head coach Jack del Rio loves to pound the run with MJD (although last season’s Hail Mary play was pretty exciting). The Jaguars always play opposing teams tough and their games usually seem to come down to the final possession. Quarterback David Garrard showed he knows how to lead his team to victory as he led the NFL in fourth quarter comeback victories. With all that being said, the Jags are just don’t have enough talent on either side of the ball and will continue to hover around .500 until they patch up their holes on defense as well as get some playmakers on the outside.
Key Arrivals – Matt Roth, Matt Turk, Drew Coleman, Dawan Landry, Paul Posluszny, Clint Session, Jason Spitz
Key Departures – Derrick Harvey, Vince Manuwai, Justin Smiley, Mike Sims-Walker, Trent Edwards, Justin Durant, Donovin Darius, Paul Spicer
Prediction – 7-9/Third in AFC South
Former head coach Jeff Fisher ran quarterback Vince Young out of Tennessee despite that fact that Young has a career record well above .500 as a starter. Veteran Matt Hasselbeck has been brought in to temporarily hold the fort while rookie Jake Locker is being groomed for the future. All the pressure is now on new head coach Mike Munchak to rebuild a Titans squad internally torn by Fisher. Munchak has his hands full as his star Chris Johnson continues to be a holdout. Aside from CJ, the Titans have no threat on offense and the defense continues to lose productive veterans to free agency. I think this will definitely be a transition year for the Titans.
Key Arrivals – Matt Hasselbeck, Pat McQuistan, Jordan Babineaux, Frank Walker, Daniel Graham, Barrett Ruud
Key Departures – Vince Young, Randy Moss, Kerry Collins, Jason Babin, Bo Scaife, David Thornton, Stephen Tulloch
Prediction – 6-10/Last in AFC South