2012 NFL Season Previews: AFC South
With the NFL season only a month away, training camps have opened as teams prepare to line up for their pre-season games. As part of that, William Hill will be previewing all eight divisions, continuing with the AFC South.
After their first ever playoff appearance, shortly followed by their first ever playoff win, the Houston Texans took advantage of a weak division in 2011. However, having lost a couple of important pieces in free agency could lead to the Texans regressing this season. It is reported that will start the year ‘100%' healthy, however he is one of the most injury prone QBs in the league, and the team will once again rely upon their running pair of Arian Foster and Ben Tate, with the former given the lion's share of carries.
The loss of Eric Winston up front, as well as defensive captain DeMeco Ryans are losses on this team. Not necessarily just for talent, but as personalities across the franchise. Theoretically, they should walk this division, but don't be surprised if they take a step or two back.
Prediction: 10 wins, 1st in AFC South
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Well, the era of Manning is over. After a decade of domination, Peyton is in Denver, and Indy's ‘suck for Luck' campaign succeeded. With the rookie QB under centre, this season is likely to be another one short of wins; however a big improvement in terms of performance is expected. In his first years a head coach, Chuck Pagano will want to prove his worth, and is likely to instil a similar defensive mindset to the one bred in Baltimore, where he served as a coach from 2008.
The Colts will look to their defense to step up and relieve some pressure from the offense as they gel early on in 2012. The Colts schedule however is tough, and the team will have a ways to go to prove their metal.
Prediction: 4 wins, 3rd in AFC South
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Without their every-down back Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars will struggle, and he is yet to sign his franchise tender. They of course have backup RBs, but MJD carries this offense, especially with Blaine Gabbert at QB. On defense, the Jags have some real talent; however they won't be able to stop opponents scoring some points, and may struggle if the offense does nothing.
In his first year as Jacksonville head coach, Mike Mularkey has laid down the law with some controversial media policies, but will struggle to bring his team away from the bottom of this division.
Prediction: 2 wins, 4th in AFC South.
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The Titans have recently fallen to a level unusual obscurity. A couple of average seasons have passed, and now Mike Munchak must take this franchise further. It looks as though second year QB Jake Locker will be given the starting job as quarter back, and with Chris Johnson in the backfield, the Titans offense could impress. Their defense has some talented attributes, and the LB Akeem Ayers is one of the most exciting young defensive stars in the league.
This is not the toughest division in the NFL, and the Titans look to be heading to 2nd by default, and will beat Houston twice to challenge their status as number one team in the division.
Prediction: 9 wins, 2nd in AFC South.
You can find the AFC South Winner market here