Whereas the AFC South may be better known for its offensive playmakers, such as Peyton Manning,…
Breaking Down the AFC South
1. Indianapolis (Peyton Manning)
2. Houston (Matt Schaub)
3. Tennessee (Vince Young)
4. Jacksonville (David Garrard)
This was probably the easiest group to rank as Manning will walk into Canton, Ohio five years after his playing days are over, and Matt Schaub's Texans finished tops in the league in passing a season ago. We give Young a slight nod over Garrard, as Young seems to relish in late-game situations, where Garrard does the opposite. Tennessee also earns the nod over Jacksonville as their backup, Kerry Collins could likely start on a few teams in the league.
1. Tennessee (Chris Johnson)
2. Jacksonville (Maurice Jones-Drew)
3. Indianapolis (Joseph Addai/Donald Brown)
4. Houston (Steve Slaton/Ben Tate)
Chris Johnson may be the best running back in the NFL, but Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew is not far behind. Johnson had a record-setting year in 2009, and vows to run for 2,500 yards in 2010. Whereas we believe Johnson's goals may be a bit unrealistic, he may be the only guy on the planet who could potentially reach that number. Jones-Drew is a touchdown machine and there's really nothing he can't do. The combination of Addai and Brown are very talented even though they're not counted upon thanks to the Colts lethal passing attack. The Texans bring up the rear as Steve Slaton suffered a sophomore slump last season as he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry and fumbled seven times. Slaton's struggles caused the team to spend a second-round draft pick on Ben Tate from Auburn.
1. Houston (Andre Johnson, Kevin Walter, Jacoby Jones)
2. Indianapolis (Reggie Wayne, Anthony Gonzalez, Pierre Garcon)
3. Jacksonville (Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Troy Williamson)
4. Tennessee (Kenny Britt, Nate Washington, Justin Gage)
The Texans had the best passing attack in the league a year ago, and Andre Johnson could be the best receiver in the game. The Colts ranked right behind Houston as their wide receiving corps is made better by the talents of the legendary Peyton Manning. The Jaguars and Titans are quite a bit behind, mainly due to the inaccuracy of their respective quarterbacks. Still, Jacksonville came in just above Tennessee as Mike Sims-Walker had a breakout season in 2009 and Titans first-round pick (2009) Kenny Britt came into camp and OTA's this year out of shape.
1. Indianapolis (Dallas Clark)
2. Houston (Owen Daniels)
3. Jacksonville (Marcedes Lewis)
4. Tennessee (Jared Cook/Bo Scaife)
Indianapolis' Dallas Clark is on the short list of the best tight ends in football as he catches the football like a wide receiver and is a mismatch for both linebackers and defensive backs. The Texans Owen Daniels is coming off a torn ACL and that should open up more opportunities for talented youngsters such as James Casey and Garrett Graham. Jacksonville has one of the most underrated tight ends in the game in Marcedes Lewis, and second-year player Zach Miller should be utilized in a greater capacity this season. Tennessee will likely involve second-year pro Jared Cook more as he gains comfortability with the offense and Vince Young.
The Titans offensive line paved the way for 2,000 yard rusher Chris Johnson a season ago and allowed just 15 sacks despite playing almost half the season with the immobile Kerry Collins at quarterback. The Colts offensive line, like the rest of the team, is made better by quarterback Peyton Manning. The Jaguars line struggled last season as they started a pair of rookies at the tackle positions, but they did get much better as the season progressed. The Texans offensive line wasn't terrible in pass protection a year ago, but they continually struggled in the running game as they couldn't convert in short-yardage situations.
Final Statistics (lower numbers are better):
1. Indianapolis= 9
2(t). Houston= 13
2(t). Tennessee= 13
4. Jacksonville= 15
The most important position in football is quarterback, and the reason why the Colts are the best offense in the division and have dominated the division is because of Peyton Manning making everyone around him better. Tennessee's dominant offensive line helped account for the success of Chris Johnson a year ago, and they should be very good again in 2010 despite losing Kevin Mawae. The Texans combination of Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson helped account for their Top 10 scoring offense, and the Jaguars are in last place mainly due to an inconsistent quarterback and a young offensive line.