Under general manager Ryan Grigson, the Indianapolis Colts have won one AFC South Divisional Title, while surrendering one championship to the Houston Texans.
Luckily for the Colts and other AFC South teams, Houston’s 2013 season can be described as an epic fall from the top record in the regular season during 2012, to the very bottom of the NFL.
The Texans were not the only team in the AFC South to boast a winning record.
The question still remains; can Indianapolis make another run for their seventh AFC South championship in the last ten years? Before we answer this, let us check out their competition.
First we will take a look at Jacksonville. The Jaguars had to play nine games last season before finding themselves in the win column. Jacksonville would end the season 4-12, which was twice the amount of wins from the previous season, thus allowing Gus Bradley a second year to try again.
Bradley has repeatedly stated that first-round pick Blake Bortles will not make any starts during his rookie season, which means that the hopes of the season will stay with the veteran Chad Henne. Marcedes Lewis is no longer the threat that he used to be, Maurice Jones-Drew has left his spots behind, and Justin Blackmon has once again been suspended and will be missing the season. The Jaguars are likely to once again find themselves in their home at the bottom of the AFC South.
Secondly we have the Houston Texans. Houston lost 14 straight regular season games, and will be looking to change that this season. The Texans used their first-overall pick on the defensive powerhouse Jadeveon Clowney, with the hopes of striking terror into opposing offenses alongside 2012 Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.
The secondary is the biggest question mark surrounding Houston’s defense. Offensively, there are some familiar faces in the “skill” positions, as well as some new faces. One new face to the offense is veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Despite the numerous changes made during the off-season, Houston does not appear to have enough pieces to take the division this season, but will have a much improved season.I mean it is inevitable to be better than the season they had a year ago. especially with that defense.
Finally let us take a look at the Tennessee Titans. 2013 was a roller coaster of a season for the Titans, who ended the season 7-9. Of the nine losses last season, only two were handed to Tennessee by teams that did not make it to the playoffs, and those two games were also divisional games. Jake Locker will once again be receiving snaps under center as the team’s starting quarterback. Locker showed flashes of greatness throughout his shortened season, but will be without the assistance of the speedy Chris Johnson.
Fortunately for Titan fans, Locker still has a strong collection of weapons to distribute the ball to. Last season Tennessee finished with the eleventh best passing defense and ranked twentieth against the run. The Titans are an underdog team that could produce around nine to ten wins this season.
Under Coach Pagano, the Indianapolis Colts have been on the pass-heavy side of offensive play calling, although that can be attributed some to the Bruce Arians year(2012), and the lack of a run game last season.
With the strength of the Titans defense being against the pass, they pose the biggest threat to Indianapolis’ chances at repeating as divisional champions. In the two games against one another last year the Colts came out victorious, but both were a one possession games.
This year during the first meeting, the Colts will be without Robert Mathis while he serves his final week of suspension, which gives the Titans a chance to win at least one of the two match ups.
With all of that said, I find it difficult, but not unlikely, to foresee Indianapolis hoisting another AFC South title banner to start off next season, and instead will find themselves in second, most likely behind Tennessee or possibly Houston. Even if the Colts are a heavy favorite to repeat as South champions, this writer is still not sold on a team that relies too heavily on the arm of Andrew Luck.