Houston Texans (12-4). While Houston has a lot to prove this season in terms of postseason success, it is still a good team that should dominate this division. QB Matt Schaub is no Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, but he is solid and can get the job done. It also helps that Schaub has one of the best NFL wideouts in Andre Johnson to throw the ball to. The only potential red flag is RB Arian Foster being placed on the PUP. If he is still on the PUP at the start of the season, I’d be a bit worried as a Texans fan because one of those games will be at the Ravens.
Defensively the Texans are among the best in the league. J.J. Watt should continue to rack up some sacks (and some pass knockdowns) and Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson should continue to elevate the improved play of the secondary.
Toughest games: at Ravens, vs. Seahawks, at 49ers, vs. Patriots, vs. Broncos and both games against the Colts. The first three games fall during the first five games of the season. That should tell us if the Texans are Super Bowl contenders or pretenders.
Indianapolis Colts (9-7). The Colts were a good – bump that, a GREAT – story last season. While rookie QB Andrew Luck did indeed show he has the goods to be a franchise QB, most of the attention centered around head coach Chuck Pagano’s recovery from cancer during the season – and rightfully so. “#Chuckstrong” fever not only took over the city of Indianapolis, it eventually took the league by storm. It was obvious to me that the Colts players love the hell out of their coach and played out of their minds for him.
Now that the rest of the league was taken by storm, the Colts will not sneak up on anyone this season. Defensive coordinators now have tape on Luck. And with a slightly tougher schedule, the Colts will be hard press to equate their 11-win total from last season.
Toughest games: at 49ers, vs. Seahawks, vs. Broncos, at Bengals, and both games against the Texans. You just know that ESPN will be slobbering over that Peyton Manning-Luck prime-time matchup. Prepare to be nauseated by those lame-ass storylines…
Tennessee Titans (7-9). Good news: the Titans have Chris Johnson to tote the rock. Bad news: that’s all they have going on the offensive side of the ball. I will say there is a possibility that QB Jake Locker will improve a bit this season. Hell, it’s a make-or-break season for him as a franchise QB.
The defense is not much better. Last season it ranked 26th and 24th against the pass and run, respectively. Don’t see that changing by much this season.
Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14). Other than Maurice Jones-Drew, there is nothing about the Jaguars that is worth talking about. Say hello to 0-16 Jags fans. Next question…