NFL: AFC South season preview

We take a look at each division before the start of the 2014 season, with this feature examining the AFC South

Indianapolis Colts

It seems almost a lifetime ago that a “Peyton Manningless” Colts finished the 2011 season 2-14. With Andrew Luck now at the helm, the prospect of repeating such a record seems close to nonexistent as the Colts appear primed for success this season. By far the best all round young quarterback in the league, Luck has filled the shoes of Manning quite nicely over the past two seasons and leads a Colts team that is one hot postseason run from a Super Bowl title. With weapons outside Luck such as T.Y. Hilton and a now fully fit Reggie Wayne, the Colts offence looks set to fire on all cylinders. However, their success with Luck is far from guaranteed as the Colts team include one of the worst offensive line units in the league. Injuries have plagued regular starters Khaled Holmes and Donald Thomas before the season’s even started meaning Luck faces inconsistency in his protection. The Colts’ defence also has the makings of a well put together unit, with players such as Robert Mathis and Vontae Davis not simply complimenting Luck on offence but also dictating the flow of the game. Barring too many hits on Luck, Indianapolis possess all the qualities of team destined to make a deep postseason run.

Houston Texans

After starting 2-0 in 2013, the Houston Texans proceeded to finish the season on a 14 game losing streak, and there was a reason for this. Most evidently, Houston’s quarterback woes with Matt Schaub and then Case Keenum proved to be their greatest downfall but worst of all, there appears to have been no consorted effort during this offseason to ensure the same situation doesn’t happen again. Veteran league backup Ryan Fitzpatrick will start Sunday, only after Case Keenum was released to make way for New England Patriots QB Ryan Mallett. The move reeks of disorganisation at the most important position, with the addition of Mallett appearing to be a last ditched attempt to salvage the season. Despite this, there is still cause for optimism in other aspects of Houston’s team. The Texans defence looks stronger and will no doubt carry the team most of the season if they are to pick up a winning record. Within this lies first round draft pick Jadeveon Clowney who has shown positive strides during the preseason and looks well placed alongside $100 million man, J.J Watt. Nevertheless, the NFL remains a passing league and without a viable option at quarterback, the Texans will do well not to struggle. Fitzpatrick has shown glimpses of promise in the past, but the lack of consistent starts and performances will no doubt have most Texan fans concerned.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

A 4-12 record in 2013 was both a fair and unfair reflection of the type of team that Jacksonville are. They of course had their difficulties, be it at quarterback, offensive line and much of their defence. However, there were positives to take away from last season which should pay dividends this year. Jacksonville are developing not only a young, but talented team. First round pick Luke Joekel returns from injury to give the offensive line much needed stability, whilst the drafting of quarterback Blake Bortles has proven (so far) to be a risk worth taking after several decent preseason performances. Although Chad Henne was picked without hesitation to start this weekend’s season opener, Bortles is undoubtedly the future of the franchise and will likely take over should the Henne struggle early on. Jacksonville’s offense is certainly not without its flaws as they will need a new playmaker following the suspension of Justin Blackmon and loss of Maurice Jones-Drew. Nevertheless, this remains a work in progress team, with head coach Gus Bradley certainly playing the long game. Whilst he does this, his team might just turn a few heads this season.

 

Tennessee Titans

In 2013, Tennessee became a prime example of an NFL team that only went as far as its quarterback could take them. Sadly for the franchise, it looks as though the same may happen again this year should Jake Locker fail to stay healthy. Locker, a fourth year pro is one of the unlucky few to show signs of great potential, only to miss out on being able to show it because of injury. In the two years as a starter in Tennessee, Locker has only played 18 games in total. In both seasons, the Titans at least had viable backups in place, yet following Ryan Fitzpatrick’s departure to Houston, Tennesee have been left with Charlie Whitehurst, a nine year veteran who’s only ever started four games in his career. New head coach Ken Whisenhunt is certainly the man to push Locker, as well as the rest of the offence but with few playmakers following the departure of Chris Johnson and once heralded wide receiver Kenny Britt, Whisenhunt’s job will not be as easy as it was in San Diego. The Titans have clearly gone all in on Locker in the hope that he fulfils his potential as the team’s legitimate future. The trouble is that the rest of the team is relying on him to.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
tv
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Extras
indybest
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary teaching roles in Ipswich

£21552 - £31588 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education re...

Science teachers needed in Norwich

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Science teachers requ...

Semi Senior Accountant - Music

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful, Central London bas...

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits