AFC South 2006 Preview and Projections

AFC South Division:

1) Indianapolis: The bad news for the Colts is that they lost key players RB Edgerrin James, PK Mike Vanderjagt, and some defensive talent to free agency, the good news is that they are a pass first team anyway which somewhat negates the loss of James and they were able to steal away PK Adam Vinatieri from the Patriots and the free agent hits the Colts took on the defensive side of the ball won’t hurt much because of the comparatively weak division that the Colts reside in.

In the big picture Indianapolis will return the vast majority of last years roster and should easily capture another divisional title, provided of course that they can stay healthy. The Colts had a very average draft but did manage to get a replacement for RB Edgerrin James in Joseph Addai with the 30th overall pick. The Colts have won 10 or more games for the past four straight seasons now, which of course means that they have been a very successful team, but it also means they have had four years of picking fairly low in the draft and eventually it catches up to a team and especially so if the ole injury bug hits and you have no depth, you need look no further for this simple truth then Green Bay and Philadelphia’s fall to earth from a year ago. Projected record: 11-5

**Look to play ON the Colts in their November 5th showdown at New England, the Colts finally got that Patriot monkey off their collective backs last season with an eye opening 40-21 win in last years visit to Foxboro, how ironic would it be if Colt PK Adam Vinatieri booted his new team to a win over his old team?

2) Jacksonville: The Jags have several question marks on offense for the upcoming 2006 season, for instance, is QB Byron Leftwich healthy and can he stay injury free for an entire season? Is RB Fred Taylor healthy and can he last for an entire season? Who will step up and replace WR Jimmy Smith? The Jags posted a 12-5 record last season which was their best record since the 1999 season but they were fortunate to do so when considering that half their wins (6) were by a mere 6 points or less, having so many questions marks on offense makes me believe they will drop half of those close games this year. Thank goodness for Jag fans that the defense will in all likelihood be a sturdy unit once again after finishing 6th in total defense last year, but defense will carry them only so far and especially when you are trying to unseat a team like the Colts. Projected record: 9-7

**Look to play ON the Jags when they visit the Colts on September 24th, good defensive teams have had great success in handcuffing Peyton and company and at the top of the list is this Jag team which has covered 6 of their last 8 meetings ATS against the Colts, as a side note its nice to know that the visitor in this divisional rivalry is an amazing 5-1-1 ATS.

3) Tenneesee: The Titans who have posted a 9-23 straight up and 11-21 ATS record over the past two seasons drafted QB Vince Young out of Texas as their future which made QB Steve McNair expendable. The game plan this year is to start former backup QB Billy Volek and bring on Vince Young slowly much like they did when they drafted McNair out of Alcorn State, however, rumor has it that the Titans might bring in former Oakland QB Kerry Collins as an insurance policy should Volek fail to perform. The Titans appear healthy once again after an injury filled season last year but the fact remains that they are still a very young and very inexperienced team that will be led into battle with a career backup QB under center. The Titans with HC Jeff Fisher at the helm should make strides this year but it won’t be reflected in the win column. Projected record: 4-12

**Look to play AGAINST these Titans on October 15th when they visit Washington, these young Titans will be playing their 4th road game in a 5 week span and figure to be a very road weary team, a check of last years results reveal that the Titans lost 7 of 8 road games in straight up fashion with five of those losses coming by double digit points.

4) Houston: These Texans won a mere two games last year and over the past four years have compiled a shoddy 18-42 straight up record, needless to say this kind of productivity got HC Dom Capers and his coaching staff fired, in Dom Capers place the Texans hired former Bronco offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Houston actually had a pretty good draft which was highlighted by DE Mario Williams who was the first overall selection in the draft, Houston also drafted two huge OT’s in Charles Spencer and Eric Winston to protect beaten down QB David Carr. The free agent signing of WR Eric Moulds will give Carr a downfield threat, that is as long as Carr can stay upright. I like what HC Kubiak is doing with regard to building up the offensive and defensive lines first and foremost but the truth of the matter is that this is another rebuilding year that will be slowed down by everyone having to learn new schemes and packages. Give this team a couple of years and they could jell into a contender when considering the talent they have. Projected record: 4-12

** Look to play ON these Texans when the Jags come to town on October 22nd, Houston has only won 18 games over the past four years but 11 of those 18 wins came at home in front of the home crazies, a look-see into the ole history book reveals that Houston has covered 6 of their last 8 meetings ATS versus the Jags including a nice 3-1 ATS mark when facing the Jags in Houston.

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