For the first time since quarterback Andrew Luck took the helm in Indianapolis, the Colts didn’t make the playoffs last year, going 8-8 as the Houston Texans took their spot as the division champion. Will history repeat itself this season?
- Indianapolis Colts: Not only will Luck likely be healthy for the whole season, but he also has a lot more pressure on himself with the huge contract deal he signed during the offseason. The man is getting paid too much money to be as mediocre as he was last season. As a result of his presence, I expect the offense to step up big time. They may not be a great team, but the Colts should find a way to win the division.
- Houston Texans: The Texans may have finally found some stability at the quarterback position by acquiring Brock Osweiler from the Denver Broncos in the offseason. Lamar Miller will give them a boost in the backfield after Arian Foster departed for the Miami Dolphins. A big question mark remains for the defense, considering that defensive end and the best defensive player in football, J.J. Watt, has gone through a couple of surgeries. Will he be able to return to his deadly form? If that’s indeed the case, then the Texans are a dark horse team to watch out for, and they may snag the division title from the Colts if they do well in their head-to-head meetings. If the AFC didn’t have strong Wild Card contenders this year, I’d say Houston has a good chance of getting back to the playoffs.
- Jacksonville Jaguars: The record may not have shown it, but Blake Bortles was one of the best quarterbacks in football last season. Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns became one of the stronger wide receiver tandems in the league, and getting Chris Ivory from the New York Jets in the backfield was a great acquisition. Tight end Julius Thomas should be ready to go from Week 1 and linebacker Myles Jack will provide them an immediate spark in the defense. The pieces are really starting to fall in place for the Jaguars to no longer be a punching bag in the league.
- Tennessee Titans: Running back DeMarco Murray joins yet another team as he pairs up with quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had a nice rookie season for the Titans. But at the end of the day, Tennessee is still far from being competitive. Expect another high draft pick.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Matt Weingarten