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SNAP CENTRAL | PREVIEWS: NCAA Top 25 | NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West
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Fearless Rick's 2010 NFL Preview - AFC SOUTH

Rick Gagliano | To be published July 27, 2010

AFC SOUTH

Indianapolis Colts 2009 record: (14-2) Projected 2010 record: (12-4)

Predicted finish: 1st, AFC South

Head Coach: Jim Caldwell

Departed: CB Tim Jennings; WR Hank Baskett; FS Marlin Jackson; G Ryan Lilja; DE Raheem Brock; LB Tyjuan Hagler; LB Freddie Keiaho; S Aaron Francisco; QB Jim Sorgi; .

Incoming: G Andy Alleman; OT Adam Terry; rookie LB Pat Angerer; rookie DE Jerry Hughes; rookie G Jacques McClendon; rookie CB Kevin Thomas

Strengths: Peyton Manning. The best QB in the game, without a doubt. Manning will put up huge numbers no matter what because the offense revolves around him distributing the ball.

Weaknesses: Rushing. Even though the Colts proved they could go almost undefeated with Joseph Addai rushing for about 55 yards per game, it's still not a conventional offense.

Key Games: 9/12 @ Houston; 11/14 vs. Cincinnati; 11/21 @ New England; 11/28 vs. San Diego; 12/5 vs. Dallas; 12/9 @ Tennessee. The first of these is their season opener, and the Texans gave the Colts fits last year, though they won both games. Those five straight games from mid-November to early December assures that the Colts won't go undefeated this season. Hosting Dallas on Dec. 5, and then having t play a Thursday night game at Tennessee is very challenging.

What if?: Opposing defenses start using five and six DBs against Manning and the Indy offense? That's been tried, and Manning changes plays at the line of scrimmage, so there's really nothing anybody can do except try to cover his four or five receivers. The Colts are not your typical NFL team and don't expect them to use a wildcat scheme any time soon.

Be.


Tennessee Titans 2009 record: (8-8) Projected 2010 record: (10-6)

Predicted finish: 2nd, AFC South

Head Coach: Jeff Fisher

Departed: DE Jevon Kearse, TE Alge Crumpler, C Kevin Mawae, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DT Kevin Vickerson, P Craig Hentrich, OLB Keith Bulluck, CB Nick Harper, RB LenDale White

Incoming: OLB Will Witherspoon, QB Chris Simms, CB Tye Hill, rookie DE Derrick Morgan, rookie FS Robert Johnson, rookie LB Rennie Curran, rookie WR Damian Williams, rookie CB Alterraun Verner, rookie SS Myron Rolle

Strengths: Vince Young, Chris Johnson and the offensive line. This group has the potential for explosiveness any time they're on the field, and with Young maturing (we hope), the Titans may be the team to beat in this tough division. Coaching. Jeff Fisher is one of the best in the business, from managing players to game planning. He's worth three to four wins a season all by himself, which is why he's been at the Titans' helm for so long.

Weaknesses: Defense. The Titans couldn't stop anybody in 2009, especially passing teams, so there's plenty of room for improvement in 2010.

Key Games: 11/28 @ Houston; 12/9 vs. Indianapolis; 12/19 vs. Houston; 1/2 @ Indianapolis. The Titans don't face their toughest divisional opponents until week 12, putting the onus on the back end of the season, though they do play at Dallas on October 10, and host Philadelphia on October 24. That should work out well for Tennessee if they continue their success from 2009, when they started 0-6, got blown out 59-0 in New England, took their bye week and then finished up 8-2.

What if?: Vince Young finally gets his act together? Young is extremely talented and can lead this team into the playoffs, for sure. If he plays to his potential and avoids off-field distractions, the Titans will be trouble week in and week out and challenge the Colts for supremacy in the division.


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Houston Texans 2009 record: (9-7) Projected 2010 record: (9-7)

Predicted finish: 3rd, AFC South

Head Coach: Gary Kubiak

Departed: RB Ryan Moats; G Chester Pitts; LB Chaun Thompson; QB Rex Grossman; RB Chris Brown; S John Busing; CB Dunta Robinson

Incoming: G Wade Smith; LB Danny Clark; K Neil Rackers; rookie CB Kareem Jackson; rookie RB Ben Tate; rookie DT Earl Mitchell; rookie LB Darryl Sharpton; rookie TE Garrett Graham; rookie KR Trindon Holliday

Strengths: Passing game. Matt Schaub proved himself in 2009 and figures to be even better in 2010 with Andre Johnson the primary receiver.

Weaknesses: Rushing game. Steve Slaton fumbled too often and Arian Foster isn't an every down back, so the Texans have some work to do in this department. Cohesion on defense. The line and safties appeared to be playing on different teams at times in 2009. If this unit pulls itself together, the Texans will be a force with which to reckon.

Key Games: All divisional games, but especially 9/12 vs. Indianapolis; 11/1 @ Indianapolis; 11/28 vs. Tennessee. Houston was just 1-5 against Indy, Tennessee (1-1) and Jacksonville last year. They have to at least split their divisional games to have a shot at the playoffs. They open with the Colts and play at indy after their bye week, both conditions could work to their favor. Catching Tennessee on their own surface for the first of two could be critical to both teams.

What if?: The Texans beat Jacksonville twice and split with the Colts and Titans? They could make the playoffs along with Indy and Tennessee. This is likely the strongest division in the league, so both wild cards could come from the AFC South.


Jacksonville Jaguars 2009 record: (7-9) Projected 2010 record: (6-10)

Predicted finish: 4th, AFC South

Head Coach: Jack Del Rio

Departed: DE Reggie Hayward; DE Quentin Groves; WR Torry Holt; DT John Henderson; LB Clint Ingram; DT Montavious Stanley; LB Brian Iwuh; DT Rob Meier;

Incoming: LB Kirk Morrison; WR Kassim Osgood; LB Freddie Keiaho; G Justin Smiley; DE Aaron Kampman; rookie DT Tyson Alualu; rookie DT D'Anthony Smith; rookie DE Larry Hart; rookie DE Austen Lane

Strengths: Experience. It's about the only good thing with the Jaguars, that they have veterans who've played together for some years. Another losing season could be the end of the Jack Del Rio era, however.

Weaknesses: Tough Division. The Colts, Titans and Texans all seem to have better talent than the Jaguars, even tough they were 3-3 (beat Houston twice, Tennessee once) against AFC South teams in '09. They could go 0-6 in the division this season.

Key Games: All games against division opponents; plus 9/19 @ San Diego; 10/3 vs. Indianapolis; 10/18 vs. Tennessee; 10/31 @ Dallas. The listed games are each two weeks apart, with the last one coming just before the bye week for the Jags. There's a good possibility that Jacksonville will be 4-4, on their way to 7-9 or 8-8, which just doesn't cut it in this division.

What if?: The defense is as bad as last year? Then the Jags might not even win seven games, because the offense can't carry this team. Last place seems almost preordained for the Jags because they haven't kept up with key personnel changes to revamp their offense and solidify what once was a solid defense.

Copyright 2010, 2010, Rick Gagliano, Downtown Magazine. All rights reserved. Downtown Magazine is located in the Uinted States of America and is not affiliated with the National Football League or the NCAA. For more information, contact us here. Use of this site is for entertainment purposes only.

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