NFL: AFC South Standings Predictions for 2018 Season
Here are my projections for the AFC South as I breakdown records for the Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans in the upcoming 2018 NFL season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars went 10-6 last year and won the AFC South. They got to the Conference Championship game but came up short against the New England Patriots.
The Tennessee Titans made the wildcard at 9-7, which was good for 2nd in the AFC South. They made it to the Divisional AFC playoff game but lost against the Patriots.
Both the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts tied for last in the division at 4-12. With both their starting quarterbacks injured during their 2017 season neither team made the playoffs.
With the offseason acquisitions for the AFC South teams and the 2017 injured players coming back healthy for this season, the AFC South is looking to be one of the more competitive divisions in the AFC for the 2018 NFL season.
The Indianapolis Colts will definitely be an improved team in 2018 with a healthy Andrew Luck. Despite that, I do not think they are ready to compete due to their relatively young defense and while they do have talent on both sides of the ball, I do not think it is enough to really compete with the rest of the AFC South. They added Eric Ebron to give Luck another target at tight end and some offensive lineman in the draft to protect him. Their run game is also a big question mark as they will role with a rotation with Marlon Mack, Robert Turbin, and rookie Nyheim Hines as they have a lot of unproven depth at this position. The weapons around Andrew Luck at the wide receiver position is not promising other than T.Y. Hilton.
Their defensive line/linebackers and secondary are both positions where they will need to wait and develop their current talent before they are strengths for this team (most of them are from the past 2 draft classes). I think they will be ready to compete in a few years but 2018 is not the year. This is due to the lack of talent in comparison to the other AFC South teams.
Record: 5-11 (Overall), 2-4 (Division)
The Tennessee Titans made the wildcard last year. This year they look to move forward into the playoffs past the AFC Divisional playoff game. Even though they added a few players, I am not sure their record changes that much from 2017 to 2018. They added Dion Lewis, Bennie Logan, and Malcolm Butler in free agency. Their rushing game will be interesting as the combo of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry should be one of the better running back duos. Lewis has a big impact in the receiving game as well. Adding Bennie Logan should help stop the run and with Malcolm Butler, their secondary should be a strength this season.
I am not sold on the Titans wide receivers. They did not improve much in this area. However, that could change if their young receivers are semi-productive this year. Marcus Mariota needs a bounce-back year from his abysmal 2017 season. Especially if the Titans want a chance to get back to playoffs and a wildcard spot.
Record: 9-7 (Overall), 3-3 (Division)[AndrewKimAds]
The Houston Texans have a lot of optimism for this season as Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt/ Whitney Mercilus are coming back from injury. If the Texans can stay relatively healthy in 2018, I think they could get close to matching with the Jaguars. Their only weakness is the offensive line and their young tight end group.
The pass rush with Watt, Clowney, and Mercilus all healthy will be scary for any team and with DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller combining for 20 receiving touchdowns in 2017, the ceiling is at its highest for the Texans.
I think the Texans could be one of the better teams in the AFC in a year or 2. Especially once they fix their weaknesses. They are right there with the Jaguars in terms of talent.
Record: 10-6 (Overall), 3-3 (Division)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are looking to get past the AFC Conference Championship. I believe they are the team to beat in the AFC South. They just lost Marqise Lee to season-ending injury as they made a big change to the wide receiving group in the offseason so the new group has to make up production from last year’s wide receiving core. The Jaguars also made 2 big free agent signings on offense with Andrew Norwell (who will help the run game) and Austin Seferian-Jenkins (who will give Bortles another target at tight end).
Their defense is still the core of their team as Myles Jack will play middle linebacker due to Paul Posluszny‘s retirement, their only weaknesses on defense are at Sam linebacker and nickel cornerback with the loss of Aaron Colvin. If Blake Bortles can limit the turnovers and improve from his 2017 performance, the Jaguars could be back to make a Super Bowl run for 2018.
Record: 11-5 (Overall), 4-2 (Division)
AFC South Standings: The Jacksonville Jaguars are still 1st in AFC South at 11-5 as they make it to the playoffs, the Houston Texans get 2nd in the AFC South at 10-6 and make the wildcard, the Tennessee Titans are 9-7 and 3rd in AFC South but miss the wildcard, and the Indianapolis Colts are 4th in the AFC South at 5-11 and miss the playoffs completely.
The Houston Texans improve their record the most. They go from a 4 win team in 2017 (due to their injuries) to a playoff team at 10 wins. I see them as a wildcard in 2018.
The Jaguars win one more game in 2018 with 11 wins as they did have some additions in the offseason.
The Tennessee Titans had some additions but I do not think it gives them more wins in a competitive AFC South as they miss the wildcard due to tougher AFC teams with a new head coach Mike Vrabel.
The Indianapolis Colts improve their 4 win record from 2017. Albeit to only 1 more win at 5 wins in 2018 with a healthy Andrew Luck. Luck could be rusty at the beginning of the year so I could see the Colts being really competitive next year as they amass more talent on both sides of the ball for 2019 with a new head coach Frank Reich.
Either way, the AFC South will be very competitive this year. I see it as one of the better AFC divisions in the NFL.
How do you feel about the AFC South? Leave a comment below.
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