NFL Divisional Futures – AFC South – Houston Texans open as heavy favorites to win back-to-back titles in the AFC South
The Indianapolis Colts owned the AFC South over the past decade or so, but last season’s collapse with Peyton Manning on the shelf for the year, marked the changing of the guard in this division. Houston stepped to the forefront behind a prolific offense and shutdown defense and has given all indications that it plans to stay there for awhile.
Houston Texans -350
Houston jumped-out to a fast start last season, but injuries to some key players, most notably quarterback Matt Schaub, had it limping into the playoffs. The Texans did manage to oust Cincinnati in the Wildcard Round, but could not get by Baltimore on the road in the Divisional Round. With Schaub, running back Arian Foster, and wide receiver Andre Johnson all healthy and ready to go, look for Houston’s offense to once again be one of the best in the league. The loss of Mario Williams on defense will hurt, but there is still enough talent to keep the Texans in the upper echelon of the NFL on this side of the ball as well.
Tennessee Titans +400
Last season’s 9-7 record including a 4-2 run in its final six regular season games has to give Tennessee some hope that its can seriously compete for the division title this season, but question marks at the quarterback position continue to haunt this team. Veteran signal caller Matt Hasselbeck is back for his 15th NFL season, but you have to really wonder what he has left in the tank. The Titans have second-year vet Jake Locker waiting in the wings, but is he ready to take over the helm on a fulltime basis? The real question for Tennessee’s offense this season is can running back Chris Johnson return to his 2009 form when he lead the NFL in rushing with 2006 yards?
Indianapolis Colts +1200
The Andrew Luck era at Indianapolis gets underway as Stanford’s former stand-out has the unenviable task of replacing a future ‘Hall of Famer’ at quarterback. The Colts completely came unglued in the absence of Manning last year, so this season has to be thought of as the start of a complete rebuilding process for this once dominant team. With the expectation levels set so low, the Colts are in perfect position to shock a few teams this year, but anything over four or five wins for this team would have to be considered a major success.
Jacksonville Jaguars +1500
Jacksonville is faced with an even bigger reclamation project after losing five of its final seven games last season to finish 5-12 on the year. Gone is Jack Del Rio as head coach and in his place is Mike Mularkey, who has already had to deal with some off-field issues with his No.1 draft pick wide receiver Justin Blackmon. The situation at quarterback remains unsettled with Blaine Gabbert coming off a less than stellar rookie campaign. The Jaguars’ offense finished the 2011 season ranked last in the NFL total yards per game and 28th in scoring. Jacksonville’s defense remains the overall strength of this team and does offer something to build off of after finishing the season ranked sixth overall in the league.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.