NFL Predictions AFC South

Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson

2020 is off to an interesting start for the Texans. First order of business this offseason, trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals, for running back David Johnson. That move alone is putting doubt in Texans fans minds in head coach Bill O’Brien. Johnson hasn’t had a great season since he got paid after a monster season in 2016, where he rushed for 1,239 yards, and 16 touchdowns. To trade a guy like Hopkins, who is considered to be one of the top 5 receivers in the game, is mind blowing. Not only that, but they took Deshaun Watson’s favorite target away. After this questionable move, they did go out and sign Brandin Cooks from the Rams. However, Cooks is by no means a DeAndre Hopkins. Besides that Watson does get good news, the Texans signed Laremy Tunsil back to a 3 year, 66 million dollar deal. Now Watson should feel more comfortable with his blind side being taken care of. Tunsil is just one piece of the puzzle on the line. In 2019, they had the 20th best offensive line with the addition of Tunsil. I believe they still have some questions in the interior of the line that need answered. Now that the draft has concluded, the Texans didn’t focus on the offensive side of the ball. Instead, they took their first two picks and selected defensive tackle Ross Blacklock, and linebacker Jonathan Greenard. Which was a good idea for the draft considering they had the 21st ranked defense a year ago. For this team to succeed, a lot of pressure will be put on Watson and this defense. Watson will have to dazzle us with his MJ-like moments, but also find a new go-to receiver. That person could be veteran Will Fuller V, who has been dealing with injuries most of his career but is very productive when healthy, or new free agent receiver Brandin Cooks who had over 1,000 receiving yards 4 out of the 6 seasons he has been in the NFL. I believe if Watson has time in the pocket, and the defense can contain the run, they will be right there in the playoff mix.

Record Prediction: 8-8

Tennessee Titans

Derrick Henry Jr.

The Titans started last season with a 2-4 record, and ending the regular season with a 9-7 record and a playoff spot. In the playoffs the Titans made it all the way to the AFC championship game, where they would get beat by the future champions the Kansas City Chiefs 35-24. Not the picture perfect ending they were looking for, but definitely a great season, and fans should be excited for the future. Especially with last seasons rushing leader Derrick Henry coming back. Henry carried the team through the playoffs and helped quarterback Ryan Tannehill throw downfield with defenses keying on him opening up play action passes. Henry ran for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. The offense will look for Henry to have another big season this year and carry them to the playoffs. Tannehill is back under center after being put in halfway through last season. He made the big throws when they mattered most and had a 62.2 QBR which was 8th best in the league. The Titans offense has tons of young talent, and a solid offensive line, especially after drafting Isaiah Wilson, tackle out of Georgia. Wilson is a big guy who is great at opening running lanes. However, the Titans may have received the vote for the steal of the draft when they took Kristian Fulton with the 61st pick. In my opinion, Fulton will be a top corner in the league in a few years. If the Titans can get the run game going early, and slow down other teams run game they will win the division and make it back to the playoffs.

Record Prediction: 9-7

Indianapolis Colts

Phillip Rivers

An unexpected retirement from Andrew Luck is how the season started for the Colts in 2019. After the news broke out, the team was scrambling for answers. Who was going to lead the offense this season and for the future. The team decided to go with Jacoby Brissett. He was already on the roster and when called upon previous years played pretty well. Brissett lead the team to a 7-9 record, but his numbers do not jump out at you with 2,942 passing yards, 18 touchdown, and a QBR of 50.1. That’s why this off season they brought in veteran Phillip Rivers. A player who is always at the top of the list when it comes to passing yard ( last season 4,615 passing yards 4th best), but can struggle with turnovers. Rivers is a high risk player as he is not afraid to take the deep shots or try to hit small windows. Last season, Rivers threw 20 interceptions where he ranked 30th in the league. He gets one last shot at winning a championship before he retires. Rivers will be 39 this season and we are starting to see his game drop a little. In my opinion this is the best team in the league for him to go to. The Colts have the best offensive line, and good young players for him to throw to. They also did a great job in the draft getting Michael Pittman Jr. a big target who will compliment TY Hilton very nicely. They also were able to get arguably the best running back in the draft in Jonathan Taylor. Now they have Marlon Mack who had a solid season last year running for 1,091 yards and 8 touchdowns, and Taylor a great college runner who looks to transition those skills over to the NFL. On paper, Chris Ballard has done a tremendous job designing this football team. They are my pick for a sleeper team to make a lot of noise this season.

Record Prediction: 10-6

Jacksonville Jaguars

Gardner Minshew II

After a 6-10 season a year ago, many people are speculating a rebuild for the Jaguars. However, this team might surprise people if Gardner Minshew lives up to the hype. Gardner Minshew II, a name many of you never heard of before last season, now has been given the keys to the car and will be leading the offense this season. Minshew is a very accurate passer, especially rolling out of the pocket and in my opinion, will show a lot of promise now that he has had a year in the league. The Jaguars had a very solid draft, taking CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson in the first round. Two players who immediately make the defense better. In the second round, they took Laviska Shenault Jr.. a receiver out of Colorado. Shenault is a dynamic athlete who will pair nicely with DJ Chark. My comparison for Shenault is JuJu Smith-Shuster. If the Jaguars hang onto Leonard Fournette this offense will be tough to stop. However, rumors around the league are saying that the Jags are trying to trade Fournette. When healthy, Fournette is a productive player and can help this team win games. I do believe this draft helped them get better in areas that were weak on both sides of the ball. However, they still do not have all the pieces they need to compete for a division title, or a playoff spot. They will in, my opinion, upset a couple teams this season in games they were considered heavy underdogs, and will compete each and every game. They will end their season in the middle to the bottom of the pack record wise, but most scores will be close each game.

Record Prediction: 4-12

Division Breakdown

The AFC South is an intriguing division, and will be a tight race to the finish on who wins. Last season division winner Houston Texans lost a key component on offense trading away Hopkins. Their defense is also inconsistent and might lose them games down the stretch. However, the great Deshaun Watson will lead this team and will be the reason they’re competing for first place in the division, and a wild card spot. The Titans had the deepest post season run out of this division last season. I think teams will start keying on the run game even more this season and will make Ryan Tannehill throw to beat them. The Colts are a very dangerous team, and, in my opinion, are the favorites to win the division as of now. The Jaguars just have to many questions on both sides of the ball. They will compete each week, but still need a couple more off-season’s of drafting, free agents, and developing players, before the compete for a division title.

Next Up: AFC West

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