Its not a great division, but the youth movement is exciting! Will the Colts overtake the Jaguars for the AFC South title? It’s not only possible, but highly likely.
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While the AFC East and AFC North could be comprised of eight pretty good to very good teams, the AFC South is not. And not just because there aren’t eight teams in the division! The South has four teams, all of whom might be bad, one who might be kind of good maybe. That’s where we stand. Sure, surprises happen in this league, but there isn’t enough talent to go around to give us true, blue title contenders here.
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The odds favor the Jacksonville Jaguars by a healthy margin to come out victorious. This is unsurprising, considering the turnover throughout its competition. The Jags are followed step-by-step by Tennessee, Indianapolis, and Houston, with none of that group expected to even reach eight wins. So will it be a walk for the Jags, a team that could viably finish last in either of our previous divisions? Yeah probably, but rookies often surprise us and with no one being very good, anything can happen!
Who Wins The AFC South?
Todd Salem: Jaguars Keep Good Times Rolling
Jacksonville has some pieces to like, but every unit feels lacking. The pass catchers should be solid if Calvin Ridley returns to his former self, but they lack a number one. Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne are both good but neither great. Does one or both take the next step? Lawrence will need to find more consistency in his throws and his performance. The offensive line is average at best, which doesn’t help if we’re trying to unearth a championship-caliber offense.
On defense, everything would need to fall right to turn this batch into a top-10 unit. There is a lot of draft pedigree, but how many of these players are going to turn into viable starters or Pro Bowl-level players? Most strikingly will be the development of Travon Walker. We haven’t seen first-overall production from Walker as of yet, but it’s only been one season.
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That’s the kingpin of the AFC South. A 9-8 club a season ago that feels…okay in 2023. And yet, who is going to be better than that? Not Tennessee. The Titans are the only other club in this division not yet jumping into the rebuild. They have the young quarterback options, but Ryan Tannehill is still the starter. They explored trade options for Derrick Henry, but he is still the workhorse. A truly bad offensive line and very lackluster pass catchers should lead to another ho-hum offensive season, so why not move to the youth? Tennessee is operating a year behind schedule here.
It just seems like a matter of time before this organization realizes it needs to pull the plug. We could see defensive veterans traded away, the QB reins handed to Malik Willis or Will Levis, and Tyjae Sharpe getting more of a run at RB. So if Tennessee is a year behind, one of Indy or Houston (or both) should be right on schedule. My pick to get headed in the right direction fastest is Indianapolis.
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Not too long ago, the Colts had one of the best offensive lines in football. Last season, they were terrible. We need some type of considerable bounce back from Quenton Nelson and company. The rest of the offense already has a number one at wide receiver and a bell cow back. All it needs is a leader. Enter Anthony Richardson. He may not be a good passer in year one, but he should be an impactful player, especially with his legs. I could see the Colts becoming a scary offense to face right away. The defense will have work to do to get to league-average, but the team’s upside is fun to consider.
Compare that to Houston. The Texans also need a bounce back season along the line but are probably worse than Indy. They do not have a true number one wide receiver, nor an elite back in the backfield. Houston also is trotting out a rookie quarterback day one, but CJ Stroud has much less upside than Richardson and will not be able to fall back on his legs to make plays. On defense, there may be more upside than we will see in Indy, especially with Will Anderson and Derek Stingley carrying high expectations, but I’m not sure that will lead to better results in 2023.
Dan Salem: Colts Overtake Jaguars
The AFC South is both completely boring, while also being very intriguing this season. I’m intrigued by the youth throughout the division, especially at quarterback and several other skill positions. I’m bored by how unlikely it is that any of these teams advances beyond a wildcard playoff game. One team will qualify, but none feel ready to compete.
Trevor Lawrence is very good, but unless he becomes great, I don’t see the Jaguars elevating themselves this season. There are too many holes, despite the strengths at QB, RB, and WR. Any misstep and Jacksonville falls short. This does not feel like a team that can “pitch a perfect game” for lack of a better analogy. Because of this, the Colts are my pick to win the AFC South.
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Richardson gives me major Lamar Jackson vibes, with a murkier outlook on his ability to throw consistently. But he doesn’t need to! The Colts are not too far removed from being an excellent football team. They can win much like the Giants did last season, with great running from the QB and their star running back, plus a receiver who can shine as needed. This will be enough to win their division, even if nothing else on the team appears all too impressive just yet. There is so much upside with the Colts, I’m getting excited as I type.
What’s left are Houston and Tennessee. The Texans are intriguing and are going to show signs of dominance, but only in flashes. This team is at least one season away from competing for the division title. I rank them ahead of Tennessee because the Titans are truly rebuilding, even if they continue to retain the players who made them great not that long ago. I expect Tennessee to trade their best assets for picks, as well as work through the growing pains at quarterback. Because of the additional uncertainty and denial, they fall behind Houston this season.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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