AFC Conference Champion Indianapolis Colts (14-2) completely dominated South division rivals (6-0). Houston and Tennessee had big second half surges for respectability. Jacksonville could be seeking relocation if season ticket sales continue declining. The Colts remain South's team to beat. Titans and Texans aim to challenge for wild card.
1) Indianapolis Colts I'll be the first to admit not thinking Indy would have a cake walk season. They could easily have gone 16-0 if it wasn't for a coaching decision to bench starters midway through game 15. Terrible, terrible decision. A perfect season and momentum was theirs for the taking. 2010 should produce another division title. Manning returns with a team greatly strengthened on draft day. Excellent selections addressing team needs: defense. Will we be treated to another New Orleans vs Indianapolis Super Bowl?
2) Tennessee Titans They were the terrible Titans during first six games of 2009 (0-6) before Vince Young took over in game seven. He resurrected the Titans season and his own career finishing the year 8-2. Tremendous coaching staff knows full well how to get every ounce from players. Sensational ground attack opens up passing game. Defense was taxed early but settled down once offense started chewing up the clock. If they're able to beat Indy at least once then Titans will be right in the thick of a playoff race.
3) Houston Texans Houston fans can only wonder what could have been in '09 if the running game showed up? These guys played tight games all year long. Things were looking up when they reached 5-3 right before dropping 4 in a row effectively knocking them out of playoff contention. Strong draft netted a highly ranked gamer in DB Kareem Jackson (Alabama). 2nd rounder Ben Tate (RB, Auburn) has a bright future if he can handle NFL speed. Texans are a good team getting better season after season. 2010 is a key year.
4) Jacksonville Jaguars Vic Ketchman of Jaguars.com calls this the "save the whale" juncture in team history. Jacksonville's fan base is diminishing rapidly. If season ticket sales don't pick up dramatically then Jags brass will seek relocation. Team play and conduct has not been inspiring in recent years. Draft grabbed solid defenders. This is a team in a little turmoil surrounding coach Del Rio and QB situation. Division rivals getting stronger. Jags lack of ticket sales straining management ability to secure core players to long term deals. Get ready for local blackouts in Jacksonville. Good news as Gators, Seminoles, Dolphins and Bucs are on local tv.