Friday, September 9, 2011

NFL 2011 Preview: AFC South

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-Digger's Daily-

Look out folks. There's a new sheriff in the AFC South. The road has been cleared for Houston Texans football. Indianapolis Colts front office confirmed Thursday - future Hall of Fame QB Peyton Manning had another neck operation. Texas on the rise. AFC South is Houston's to win or lose.

1 - Houston Texans
Offense: Explosive. QB Matt Schaub - league leading RB Arian Foster - star WR Andre Johnson - productive TE Owen Daniels. Offensive line improvement will go a long way in '11. This team can turn it on. Consistency has been past problem - not this year.
Defense: Exploded. "Don't mess with Texas" didn't apply to this defense last year. They allowed the most yards in NFL action. 4-3 is out. 3-4 is in to bring about a better pass rush? Good luck. New defensive look including cornerbacks & safety offers hope. Expect an improvement over 2010 - they'll need to be strong before playoff football begins.
Prediction: No less than 11 wins unless defensive unit becomes useless.

2 - Tennessee Titans
Offense: Long time coach Jeff Fisher is out and will be missed. In steps Coach Munchak and his prisoners take all no-nonsense philosophy. Chris Johnson recently stopped holding out and is back ready for live action. New QB is veteran Matt Hasselbeck. Matt's taken plenty of heat in recent years. I believe Tennessee is the perfect fit. Watch out. Titans will surprise all who think they're doomed to cellar dwellers in 2011. No way. This bunch has the ability to become a strong ball control unit.
Defense: Usually a solid squad looked lost in 2010 giving up big play after big play. Munchak will whip these guys into shape.
Prediction: Not as bad as most are predicting. .500 season well within reach. If D comes back to life and Hasselback's efficient?? Perhaps 10 wins or more if teams take Titans for granted. Tennessee is the anything can happen team for 2011.

3 - Indianapolis Colts
Offense: Peyton Manning is out (neck surgery) - probably for the season. Kerry Collins recently dusted off his retired spikes to sign with Indy as Peyton's fill in. Good news for Colts fans, they're already loaded with weapons and KC is a skilled veteran. Many question surround how coaches instruct Collins to run the offense? No huddle formations? Or will they play straight up? Smart play calling keeps Colts winning. Injuries have creamed Colts players in recent seasons. Staying healthy is key.
Defense: Undecided. Many key defenders returning from 2010 injuries. Are they sound enough to endure a full season in 2011? Too many question marks. When healthy, this group is ready to play. Quick and aggressive.
Prediction: I don't see it. Team enters season on a low note learning of Manning's latest surgery. Too many questions. Colts season remains in limbo heading in. No need to panic - just keep a careful watch. 8-8.

4 - Jacksonville Jaguars
Offense: In a desperate attempt to save his head coaching job, Jack Del Rio axed QB David Garrard in the last week of camp shocking everyone. Luke McCown is opening day starting QB. When Del Rio breaks the class in search of another panic button - rookie Blaine Gabbert will get the nod. 2011 will be ugly for Jags players. RB Maurice Jones-Drew figures to be one of the few bright sports on offense provided his gimpy knee hold up.
Defense: It's tough to rank a defense which didn't play any last year. They stunk it up. Jaguars were last in the NFL in yards per play and yards passing per play. It might not matter how the offense performs because this defense won't stop anyone.
Prediction: 8-8 in 2010. 4-12 coming up.

Next up - AFC West

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