The dog days of summer can’t last forever and thank goodness for that because football is around the corner, and we are gearing up for the 2023 NFL season with our divisional previews. We will be going division by division, breaking down the biggest headlines, the new additions, and our predictions. Here’s our 2023 AFC South Preview.
It was a rollercoaster year in the AFC South which ended with a dramatic finale between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans to see who would claim the division title. The Jags ultimately won and sent the Titans packing, a tough pill to swallow after leading the division the first half of the season. However, they were unable to stay healthy and ultimately fell off. The Jags went on a five-game winning streak to end the season and send them to the postseason. The Jags pulled off an improbable comeback in the wildcard round before falling to the Chiefs in the divisional round. The Colts had such a bad year that they fired Frank Reich halfway through and ended up with a top pick in the draft, and the Texans really shot themselves in the foot. In the driver’s seat for the first pick, they won their final game of the year and had to watch the top selection go to the Bears. With the second pick, they took CJ Stroud.
Favorite to Win in 2023
The Jags and Trevor Lawrence are the favorites coming into the season. They have a stacked offense that’s led by their quarterback, they have Travis Ettiene looking like one of the hardest runners in the league, and don’t forget, they traded for WR Calvin Ridley who was suspended last season. The Titans will be on their heels after signing DeAndre Hopkins and holding onto Derrick Henry. I don’t have a ton of hope for the Colts or the Texans who have very young quarterbacks leading them into new eras. I think both rosters are closer to competing than they would appear after their 2022 records, so, both of these teams could be relevant sooner rather than later.
Offensive Player to Watch: CJ Stroud
There was a lot of talk over who the first overall pick should have been, and Stroud was deemed the second pick. I always find that interesting and wonder how he will react to that. Will it fuel him and make him outwork Bryce Young or will that anti-hype get to him, and will it prove to be a poor choice?
Defensive Player to Watch: Travon Walker
For a guy that was a number one overall draft pick a year ago on a playoff team, we didn’t hear his name a whole lot and his numbers were slightly underwhelming. The pass rusher will need to put up way bigger numbers and a much better performance if he wants to stay away from the bust label.
I am buying into the Lawrence hype, and I really like Doug Pederson as a head coach. Mike Vrabel will have his team ready this year, so it should be a dog fight in the South. Record: 10-7