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NFL Crystal Balls: Indianapolis Colts reign over Titans and AFC South

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The Titans and Texans are poised for revivals in the AFC South, but it’s not enough to topple the Colts. Andrew Luck gets it done once again. Dan Salem and Todd Salem debate in Sunday’s TD Sports Debate. Two brothers from New York yell, scream and debate the NFL and sports.

 

DAN:

The AFC South has a chance to be the least competitive division in all of football, unless you want to include competing for last place. That could be contentious.

I’m usually one to see potential in teams and players, but the AFC South sparks little to none outside of Indianapolis. Here’s how things finished up in 2013:

Indianapolis Colts 11-5 (division title)(playoffs)
Tennessee Titans 7-9
Jacksonville Jaguars 4-12
Houston Texans 2-14

I know many pundits are building a bandwagon for the Tennessee Titans, but I will be standing firmly on the ground, as far away from the wagon as possible. Don’t get me wrong, they won’t be a bad team, probably finishing similar to last season or with an extra win. But I don’t see the Titans in the playoff picture. They were an uninspired 7-9 last year and nothing has changed to sway my optimism, or lack there of.

I’m lumping the Jaguars and Texans together because both teams will be slightly better than last season, but not better than the average Titans. I like what Houston is doing, rebuilding a team that got completed dismantled. But they are working with a journeyman quarterback and too many holes to keep track of. Its hard to see them reaching eight wins, but anything will be better than last season’s two victories.

Its a similar story for Jacksonville, who barely managed four victories last year. They probably get four or five again this season, but last place is calling there name in the AFC South.

Which leaves us with the Indianapolis Colts, the bell of the ball in this division. They have the only star quarterback of the bunch, so its no surprise they win this division once again. I love Andrew Luck and I love how much he’s going to improve this season. Its scary to say it, but I don’t see a ceiling on this kid. The Colts will decimate this division. Its note even close.

 

TODD:

This is a fascinating turn of events nearing the end of our division previews. I see the AFC South completely differently than you do.

The only thing we’re in agreement about is the Jacksonville Jaguars finishing dead last. They have the worst roster in the division and a sketchy quarterback situation to boot. The Jags are still a few years away from putting up a respectable amount of W’s.

After Jacksonville though, I see the remaining three teams in this division as tremendously even. Andrew Luck is certainly the bell of the ball. He’s a stud at QB, but I could argue that the Colts outside of quarterback have the worst remaining roster out of them, Tennessee and Houston.

Houston should be much better than last season by default. The defensive pass rush may be epic; a healthy Arian Foster makes the offense still formidable. I also love the pairing of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins on the outside. If Ryan Picks-Patrick is serviceable, this team could…wow Ryan Fitzpatrick is a real bummer here, isn’t he? Houston finishes third because of that, but I like this roster! The difference between Houston and first place will be less than between it and Jacksonville.

That leaves Indianapolis, the reigning champ, and Tennessee, the critical darling. Stupid and completely irrelevant caveat that seems to come up a lot in these discussions: if these two teams switched quarterbacks, the Titans would run away with the South.

They should have an amazing offensive line and a slew of talented, young skill players. It would be a surprise if the defense also wasn’t better than Indy’s. That being said, what is Andrew Luck worth over the likes of Jake Locker? It’s at least 2-3 wins, right? Especially if Locker, who I like in a vacuum, goes down again. If Zach Mettenberger or Charlie Whitehurst start even a quarter of the Titans’ games this season, forget everything about Indy having its hands full for the division title. Otherwise, this thing comes down to the wire with both teams around the 9-10 win area.

The Colts come out on top again just because of Luck and luck.

 

[AFC West Crystal Balls on Wednesday]

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Tags: 2014 NFL Predictions AFC South Andrew Luck Houston Texans Indianapolis Colts Jacksonville Jaguars NFL Tennessee Titans

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