We are drawing closer to the start of the NFL season, as all 32 teams have reported to training camp. There will be so much to anticipate this year, including a new 17 game regular season. Rookies like Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson will be fun to watch. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will face an insane amount of pressure as they try to repeat as champions. Of course, we will all be watching for this year’s breakout star. As we count down the days to the opening kickoff, let’s preview the divisions. Today, we are looking at the AFC South.
The AFC South was an extremely competitive division in 2020, despite the Houston Texans. The Texans seemed to be on the rise after making the playoffs in 2019, but won only four games last season and fired head coach Bill O’Brien just four weeks into the season after an 0-4 start.
The Tennessee Titans continued to improve after their impressive 2019 season that was capped off by upsets of the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. In 2020, the Titans were challenged the entire year by the Indianapolis Colts who gave Philip Rivers one last shot at a Super Bowl run before he eventually called it quits once their season ended with a playoff loss in the opening round to the Buffalo Bills.
The Titans were upset by the Ravens in the opening round this past postseason and watched Derrick Henry stuffed for just 40 yards rushing in the game. Oh, and the Jags…well they had the worst record in the NFL and got the first overall pick in the draft.
Favorite to Win in 2021
The favorite to win in 2021 is Tennessee. The Titans are returning their offensive core and brought in All Pro wide receiver and future Hall of Famer Julio Jones to compliment A.J. Brown. The Titans now have an offensive juggernaut led by Jones, Henry, Brown and quarterback Ryan Tannehill who had the 4th best QBR ranking in the league.
After that, the Colts are serious contenders in the South, but they are unsure when new starting quarterback Carson Wentz will be ready to play after he injured himself in practice. It looks like second-year quarterback Jacob Eason could get a shot to start right off the bat.
The Jags now have Urban Meyer as their head coach, but it’s a stretch to think that he and Trevor Lawrence can win the division in year one. And of course, the Houston Texans are the most dysfunctional team in football at the moment.
Offensive Player to Watch: Trevor Lawrence
This one is easy. The first overall pick in the draft is kicking off a new era in Jacksonville and it is exciting to see if he will be the guy to finally turn the Jags into a winner. He was incredible in college, but this league chews guys up and spits them out.
Defensive Player to Watch: Darius Leonard
The Colts linebacker has turned into one of my favorite players in the league and it will be exciting to see him perform as the defensive leader in his fourth year. He racked up 132 combined tackles last season and is coming for more in 2021.
Prediction: Titans (11-6)
I think there is going to be some flip flopping at the top of the division early in the season, but I am confident that Tennessee will get the job done powered by the beast of an offense that they’ve built in Music City.