NFL Preview Bonanza: AFC South

TENNESSEE TITANS

Last Season: 13-3

This Season: 11-5, AFC #2

Solid if unspectacular, the Titans’ defense will suffer from the loss of Albert Haynesworth while the offense will benefit from the continued maturation of Chris Johnson and LenDale White and the off-season pick-up of Nate Washington (it doesn’t sound like much, but do you realize who this team’s receivers are?). Can I see the Titans being a team that goes from 13-3 to 7-9? Absolutely: Kerry Collins is their quarterback. At the same time, I expect them to grind out close wins and find themselves at the top of the division and with a first-round bye for a second straight year.

Tim’s favorite player in Tennessee Titan history is…: I talked about it a few weeks ago, but the late Steve McNair was my favorite player of the last decade.

A Great and Recent Titan Game: Ten years later, and it’s still hard to believe Home Run Throwback happened. Especially if you’re from Buffalo.

You know who might be underrated? Kerry Collins was one game away from going to a championship game with his third different franchise. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another quarterback who’s done that, and the only two I can think of that took two teams that far are Kurt Warner and Joe Montana.

I was really excited for this, but now I’m not as much: The Titans will wear Houston Oilers throwbacks during the season to honor the 50th anniversary of the AFL. Unfortunately, they’re wearing their old AFL jerseys and not the greatest uniforms in the history of football.

If the Titans were a character from The Wire, they would be: Kima. They’re not flashy, they’re not the main character, but they’re always there, doin’ work.

Did you know? Eddie George once did this to Ray Lewis.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Last Season: 8-8

This Season: 10-6, AFC #5

That’s right. I’m on the Texans-as-sleeper bandwagon. All Houston really needs is a healthy season from Matt Schaub to have a terrific offense. Andre Johnson can have his Larry Fitzgerald breakout campaign, Steve Slaton will be even better in his second year, and Owen Daniels is a Pro Bowl tight end. The defense boasts one of the league’s best linebackers in DeMeco Ryans and an emerging star in Mario Williams. The potential is there; it’s about finding some consistency.

Tim’s favorite player in Houston Texan history is…: Umm, pass?

A Great and Recent Texan Game: The Texans beat the Cowboys in their franchise-opening game in 2002. It’s pretty much been downhill ever since.

Is this the creepiest thing you’ve ever seen? No, but it’s in the conversation.

If the Texans were a fast food chain, they would be: Sonic. Versatile and about to go national.

Did you know? John was once a Texans’ fan, briefly in the 2007 season. He gave up on them, though, because we had told him to be a Browns’ fan, and the Browns were good that year.

A quote that surprisingly predates and in a way foreshadows John’s brief Texan fanhood: “I will stand by the Mario Williams pick. I mean, Columbus was mocked for thinking the world was round.”

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Last Season: 12-4

This Season: 9-7, AFC #6

I tried to keep the Colts out of the playoffs, but it’s really hard to find an eighth loss for this team. Indianapolis is, obviously, still a very good team; I just think every NFL franchise goes through “one of those years” where things don’t break right and there’s not much you can do about it. I don’t know how it’s going to happen with the Colts, whether it’s a crippling injury to Manning, Wayne, Clark, or Freeney; a series of ridiculously close Chargers-style losses; or some unforeseen regression from Peyton Manning. I do know, though, that unlike last season, this Colts team—without Tony Dungy and without Tom Moore—is less equipped to cope with such hardship. And they’re still going to make the playoffs.

Tim’s favorite player in Indianapolis Colt history is…: Two very weird choices here: Jim Harbaugh and cornerback Ashley Ambrose. Needless to say, I was really into that 1995 Colts’ team.

A Great and Recent Colt Game: I mentioned earlier how the Colts had lost the second greatest AFC Championship game of the last 15 years, but they won the best. Considering the rivalry, the talk if Manning would ever get over the Patriots’ hump, and the fact that Rex Grossman and the Bears were waiting for the winner in the Super Bowl, this was the game that will likely define Manning’s career. And, for once, he was able to come through.

Are you suggesting Peyton can’t win big games? I’m saying he couldn’t win big games, then he won a big game, and now he can’t win big games again.

If the Colts were a historical entity, they would be: The Ottoman Empire. Not as popular as some other empires, but the one with the most longevity.

Did you know? Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened just last year, is already facing severe cost issues.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Last Season: 5-11

This Season: 7-9

There just isn’t a whole lot here beyond Maurice Jones-Drew. David Garrard is an average NFL starter who still doesn’t have any receivers, and the defense isn’t nearly as good as it was two seasons ago. It’s not that Jacksonville is a bad team, it’s just that the Jaguars aren’t good enough to compete in the league’s toughest division.

Tim’s favorite player in Jacksonville Jaguar history is…: I guess Mark Brunell always seemed like a classy guy.

A Great and Recent Jaguar Game: I imagine Dan Marino did not expect his career to end in a 62-7 playoff loss.

Did you say 62-7? I know! 62-7!

The Jaguars were good that year: Yeah, they went 14-2 in the regular season, with their only losses to the Titans. After beating Miami, the Jaguars unfortunately had to play Tennessee again. And the third time wasn’t the charm.

Remember that Jimmy Smith-Keenan McCardell receiving duo? Apparently, the Jags have been cursed at the position ever since, to the point that they’re talking up Troy Williamson as a No. 1 guy this season (opposite, of course, Torry Holt).

Wait, what? Yeah, I forgot Torry Holt was a Jaguar, too.

Gonna alter that 7-9 prediction? Ha…no.

If the Jaguars were an NBA franchise, they would be: The Memphis Grizzlies. Nobody really cares about them, and you’re always surprised when you go back and see they made the playoffs a few times.

Did you know? The Jaguars changed their uniforms this year. The newbies are blah.

3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by James Schneider on September 8, 2009 at 5:20 PM

    The texans are going to win the super bowl

    Reply

  2. […] tried to knock the Colts out of the playoffs last season. I played the whole “Bad things happen sometimes in the NFL” card that I tried to with San […]

    Reply

  3. […] it changes over time with which fan bases have success and which don’t. You know how much I love the 1995 Colts and Jim Harbaugh.* So it comes down to who’s starved for success, which fan bases I feel deserve it, which teams I […]

    Reply

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