2018 NFL Preview - AFC South

by Howie Mansfield, BBM Staff Writer

Jacksonville Jaguars - One heartbeat away from the Super Bowl, the Jaguars are still a formidable foe in the AFC. Jacksonsville's vaunted defense will again be asked to destroy game plans and give their offense a chance to make magic ones again. QB Blake Bortles become more of a game manager with a big arm, but he does have weapons to pull off a big season. Can I be wrong here? With the departures of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, Bortles will need new targets. When veteran Marquise Lee went down with injury late in preseason, all might seem lost, but expect Dede Westbrook and Keelan Cole to pick up the offense. Westbrook and Cole will see their fair share of opportunities. RB Leonard Fournette will again be the offensive centerpiece but look out for Corey Grant to play a role. TE Austin Sefarian-Jenkins could be a nice target for Bortles in the red zone. Bortles has the talent to be a top-10 quarterback but hasn't shown it. Now might be the time for him to step up.

Houston Texans - One year removed from Hurricane Harvey and the emotions tied to the community, the Texans are looking for a fresh start and hope for a better 2018. DeShaun Watson's untimely injury derailed what was turning out to be a decent season for Houston. Watson and DeAndre Hopkins were becoming a dynamic duo to watch, and that won't change. RB Lamar Miller hasn't been the type of impact player they hoped to get from Miami. D'Onta Freeman has been injured and unable to push Miller for the starting job. WR Will Fuller V and TE Ryan Griffin will be called upon to help Watson out when Hopkins is covered. J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney lead the Texans defense that could be one of the best in the NFL. Houston has a chance to contend and a Wild Card spot is possible. Watson's health will be the greatest focus and will need Miller to give the offense a multi-dimensional look.

Indianapolis Colts - Andrew Luck is back, but do the Colts
have enough weapons to make a serious run? Luck's injury last year certainly pushed the franchise back, but youth is on its way. Out is the consistent RB Frank Gore, a plodding back that ran straight ahead, and in is Marlon Mack, a dynamic outside runner with great speed. Mack was hurt at the end of the preseason and might be back in time to start the regular season. WR Ryan Grant provides another strong outside threat with T.Y. Hilton still the top receiver. TE Jack Doyle could also have another strong season if Luck is healthy because the veteran QB likes to throw to his tight ends.  The defense is expected to be near the bottom in the NFL, so expect teams to score early and often on Indianapolis. That means Luck could have a breakout fantasy season, behind in games this year.

Tennessee Titans - Another AFC South team that made the playoffs last year was Tennessee. QB Marcus Mariota had a decent season and his supporting cast certaintly helped. TE Delanie Walker, WR Rishard Matthews, WR Eric Decker, RB Derrick Henry and RB DeMarco Murray lead a balanced attack. However, gone is Murray and Decker. WR Corey Davis has become the defacto #1 receiver, even coming off of injury that cost him a good portion of 2017. Mariota and Davis will need to give quick chemistry for the Titans to be successful. New head coach Mike Vrabel is no stranger to postseason football. He assembled a strong coaching staff including offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and defensive coordinator Dean Pees. Both men have had much success and, like Vrabel, feel the Titans are very close to the next step in the team's maturation. Tennessee's defense is average at best, so Mariota and company will need to score for any chance to get back to the playoffs in 2018.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.