At the top of each NFL season, some fans are brimming with confidence. Other fans are brimming with… the opposite of confidence. While nobody is certain about which teams will be good and which ones won’t Ron Hampston and Kyle Madson provide the overly optimistic and overly pessimistic preview for each team.
OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE AFC SOUTH
The Texans are so, so close. They’ve been a quarterback away from Super Bowl contention for what seems like a decade. They finally addressed the issue signing Brock Osweiler away from the defending world champion Denver Broncos.
Osweiler helped guide the Broncos to a division crown with Peyton Manning out for a better part of the season. Despite his play, Osweiler got benched in favor of Manning for the postseason and it turns out he wasn’t very happy about it. Now he has a chip on his shoulder with a very good wide receiving corps. That bodes well for the Texans offense.
On the defensive side, they have J.J. Watt, Whitney Mercilus and a healthy Jadeveon Clowney. This defense is going to be one of the most exciting units in the NFL, and is the type of defense that helped Denver win the Super Bowl a season ago. If this front seven is healthy, the Texans will be championship favorites come January. -KM
Watching the Colts last year was painful because they should have been so much better than they were. They have a top-end quarterback, a good receiving corps and the active leading rusher in the NFL . This is an offense that should and will score points in bunches.
They didn’t score points in bunches last season, finishing 24th in points scored while an injured Andrew Luck played in just seven contests. Luck being back and healthy will surely revamp Indy’s offense.
The defensive side is where this team lacks. In 2015, they finished 25th in points allowed and 26th in yards. If the Colts can improve even a little bit defensively, force some turnovers and make a few stops a game, that’ll be enough for Luck and Co. to bring a Lombardi Trophy to Indianapolis. -KM
This roster is loaded with talent after just shy of a decade-long commitment to sucking by Jacksonville. Blake Bortles looks to be ready to lead a good team and Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns both went over 1,000 yards receiving last year. This offense is going to have a coming out party and the rest of the NFL is invited.
On defense, the Jaguars are loaded. They were able to snag Jalen Ramsey, arguably the best defensive player in the draft with their first pick. Ramsey was “arguably” the best defensive player in the draft thanks to Myles Jack, whose knee injury had him careen all the way down to Jacksonville with the fifth pick of the second round. That’s a ridiculous draft haul for an already up-and-coming team. With Bortles, Ramsey and Jack leading the way, this team is probably too young to compete now, but they’re also probably too young to care. That’s the kind of squad nobody wants to line up against come playoff time. -KM
Marcus Mariota is good enough to play and succeed in the NFL. He just needs help. The Titans know this so they went out and got a top-end running back in DeMarco Murray and drafted a Heisman Trophy-winning running back in Derrick Henry. This team is going to run the football and force teams to worry about those two guys while Mariota settles in and goes to work picking teams apart like he’s back in the Pac-12.
Tennessee’s defense wasn’t terrible last season, they were just on the field a lot trying to make up for an abysmal offense. If the Titans can lean on their two hulking running backs and play a possession game that limits the time their defense is on the field, they’ll sneak up on some people in a potentially weak division. That’s how a team that should be bad stumbles into the playoffs, and once they’re there, anything can happen. -KM
PESSIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE AFC SOUTH
In order for Houston to play in Super Bowl 51 they will have to stop Watt from overworking himself doing photoshoots and commercials. Okay, I’m kidding…mostly.
The Texans signed Osweiler to a lucrative deal, but can he really play? The talent is there on both sides of the ball, but the quarterback is the final piece that has been missing. The Super Bowl chances hinges on the arm of the one-time replacement to Peyton Manning.
Having said that, the Osweiller experience gives appropriate reasoning to eliminate the Texans’ chances to win it all. -RH
Andrew Luck’s beard, flip phone, and contract are reasons why the Colts will not make a Super Bowl trip.
The Colts will be a lot better than they were in 2015, but far from Super Bowl worthy. With the pressure of living up to the hefty contract, the former No.1 overall pick will be under heavy scrutiny.
Sure, Luck will have some success, but his supporting cast and defense will not hold up their end of the deal.-RH
The Jags bolster a lot talent on offense. The trio of Bortles and the Allen brothers (Robinson and Hurns) mortified secondaries last season and they will look to do the same in 2016.
Despite their aerial assault, it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. Coupled with kicker Jason Myers’ untimely misses and an inexperienced defense, the Jags fell short of making the postseason. The defense added Jack and Ramsey in the draft, but they are a few years away from making noise.
For the first time in forever the Jags are headed in the right direction, but a Super Bowl bid is a fantasy for the time being. – RH
Um…..Did you watch them last season? They will be lucky to win six games. -RH
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