- Duuuuvals and Don’ts – 2023 AFC South Preview - September 5, 2023
- LSU And FSU Moving Forward After The Camping World Kickoff - September 4, 2023
- Will It Still Be The Jags? - July 27, 2023
Southern winds have blown through this division of the AFC and change is coming. Over the past few seasons, it’s been Tennessee’s division to lose. However, the rest of the crop has rebooted during recent drafts while the Titans were on top. Suddenly, the national narrative has a new favorite in the race.
2022 Record: 3-13-1
Key Player: Quarterback – CJ Stroud
Player To Watch: Defensive End – Will Anderson
Don’t rule out this team as a dark horse in the coming season to sneak in as competitors. While they have crafted what might be a top defensive secondary in the AFC South, they’ve swung big with remarkable draft trades to get Will Anderson as an edge rusher as the third overall pick in the 2023 draft after upgrading at quarterback with CJ Stroud with the 2nd overall pick.
If no other picks in 2023 capitalize, Houston will walk away with two starters at significant positions while also retaining Laremy Tunsil to anchor the offensive line. Moreover, with weapons that are young but sneaky good at the receiver spot along with an experienced running back room, if an opponent doesn’t come out swinging, this quarterback corps needs only manage the game well for a shot at victory.
My guy @PCreighton1 of @espn975 Houston came to talk #Texans in the #AFCSouth Preview. Hear his predictions as well as @JohnShipley of @JaguarReport @droppedballspod of @SportsADark_ and Gen. @MikePatton82 of Touring the AFC South. #NFL
— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) August 31, 2023
I feel confident that they will not finish last in this division. Prediction: 7-10
2022 Record: 4-12-1
Key Player: Quarterback – Anthony Richardson
Player To Watch: Running Back – Jonathan Taylor
While it’s encouraging to see that the Colts aren’t going with a retread at the quarterback position, Anthony Richardson over Gardner Minshew only solves one of several problems still looming over this team.
Yes, players coming back healthy will solve some of the issues on the roster, the question becomes will two of their stars return to former levels of production? Defensively, Shaq Leonard becoming at least a substantial factor will be necessary for them to overachieve defensively while on offense, the public feud between running back Jonathan Taylor and owner Jim Irsay is causing its own set of problems.
Sure, Taylor is on the team (for now), but the likelihood of him producing 2021-NFL-MVP-candidate numbers seems highly unlikely.
To make a long story short, when you are throwing out a rookie starting at quarterback while your top two players are huge question marks, that tells me the rebuild is coming. At least guard Quenton Nelson is still in place to protect Richardson so he can last into year two. Prediction: 5-12
2022 Record: 9-8
Key Player: Linebacker – Josh Allen
Player To Watch: Wide Receiver – Calvin Ridley
I know that someone will be offended Trevor Lawrence isn’t listed as a key player. He is certainly poised to take a step forward for a number of reasons. Over and above the arrival of Calvin Ridley as a potential topflight receiver, Lawrence also gets another year of chemistry with his running back corps which is currently led by his Clemson teammate Travis Etienne as well as his tight end Evan Engram.
I talk with @_John_Shipley of the @JaguarReport as part of the #AFCSouth Preview tonight at 8:40pm EST. See John, @MikePatton82 of Touring the AFCSouth, @PCreighton1 of @espn975 Houston, and @droppedballspod of @SportsADark_.
Check it on YT: https://t.co/STy2A9LHTX pic.twitter.com/QJPgyQmH6c
— Kyle Nash (@TheSoTG) August 30, 2023
The bad news is there are a lot of nagging injuries popping up on the offensive line, including to their 1st round pick Anton Harrison. Also, while the Jags seem to be seeing good evolution on defense from their backs and linebackers, Josh Allen as the bell cow in the pass rush will still need to see a significant leap from 2022’s top NFL Draft pick Travon Walker. While 2023 5th-round pick Yasir Abdullah shows promise heading into his rookie season as an edge rusher while other peripheral players have shown promise in the preseason, it doesn’t feel like Jacksonville did enough in the front seven to where they’ll get further in the postseason than last year. Prediction: 10-7
2022 Record: 7-10
Key Player: Running Back – Derrick Henry
Player To Watch: Wide Receiver – DeAndre Hopkins
This is the first time since 2021 that the Titans aren’t the odds-on favorite in the AFC South Previews according to The 3 Point Conversion. It’s not that Tennessee doesn’t have their strengths. Mike Vrabel is an excellent coach who has gotten the most out of a number of young players in his time there. Coincidentally, their defense makes a strong case for the best as a unit in the division thanks to their front seven.
However, relying on Derrick Henry to carry this offense has become a game of diminishing returns as he continues to age. With fans arguing over when Malik Willis and Will Levis will play while Ryan Tannehill is still your incumbent starter only adds to the concerns surrounding putting points on the board in a year where the AFC North is on the schedule. While the NFC South may balance that difficulty out a bit, NFC victories don’t hold weight in tiebreaks.
The acquisition of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins addressed need at the position, and drafting Tulane’s Tyjae Spears was definitely a help in adding an additional playmaker. But it doesn’t matter when the man delivering the football is also the most questioned talent on the offense. Prediction: 7-10