Red’s 2022 NFL Predictions – AFC South

Once a perennial contender for Red’s NFL Division of Excellence Award, the AFC South has fallen into the ranks of the mediocre. Having two dreadful franchises in the mix for the past several years has not helped. The Titans have carried this division since the early retirement of Andrew Luck and the Colts’ decline. Will the Colts be back? Will the Titans repeat as the AFC’s No.1 seed? Will the Texans and Jaguars continue to suck? Read on.

Indianapolis Colts – The quarterback shuffle since the departure of Mr. Luck continues. Jacoby Brissett, Philip Rivers and Carson Wentz all lasted one season. Now it’s Matty Ice’s turn. Red doubts he will fare much better. Fortunately for Mr. Ice, he may not need to be very good to win enough games to clinch the South title. The Iceman has some top tier talent in WR Michael Pittman and RB Jonathan Taylor, who led the NFL in rushing in 2021 with 1,811 yards. The Colts almost always field a good corn-fed O-Line and with some play action, the Ice Bucket will have time to find targets other than Pittman and keep defenses honest. The Colts defense is decidedly average, so the Ice Tray will have to keep the Colts scoring to win games. If Ice Hole can put 25 points on the board consistently, the Colts have a chance. Nothing comes easy but the Colts win the division with a 10-7 record (5 wins coming against AFC South rivals).

Tennessee Titans – This is probably not Red’s wisest choice as the Titans could surprise with its superior running and defensive games. Maybe Derrick Henry is an Emmitt Smith type running back that can produce at a high level for a decade. Maybe not. That the Titans continue employ a quarterback who couldn’t start for his college team is somewhat remarkable. With some outstanding talent last season, Ryan Tannehill threw 14 interceptions with only 35 passes of 20 or more yards and 7 passes of 40 yards or more. And now Julio Jones and A.J. Brown are gone. Maybe Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Dez Fitzpatrick can fill those shoes. Okay, probably not. There is a successor waiting in the wings. Malik Willis was a winning dual-threat QB in college. If he steps up, then maybe Tennessee does not go 9-8 grasping for the last wildcard straw.  

Houston Texans – The Texans couldn’t stop anyone last season – either on the ground or in the air – giving up more than 30 points seven times last season. The highlight of the season was a win in Tennessee as the Titans were adjusting to life without Derrick Henry. What’s to say that this year will be better? Really not much. Davis Mills has a almost a full-season of games under his belt. But he lost team MVP Brandin Cooks and will be relying on a bunch of unproven talent. New head coach Lovie Smith is a defensive guy, so maybe some scheming will keep the Texans in some games late. If Smith is willing to let his offense open it up, the Texans just might surprise some folks early on. They’ve got a slim shot at starting 3-3 or 2-4 and playing the NFC East helps with weak sisters Giants and Commanders on the schedule. A 6-11 record could be a triumph. Hard times in H-Town.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Well 2021 was nothing short of an embarrassment with Urban Meyer making a fool of himself in almost too many ways to believe including kicking his kicker in the leg and calling him a “dipshit”, repeatedly dissing his assistant coaches as “losers”, hiring a racist bully as the team strength coach, signing Tim Tebow as a TE, fondling a woman at his Ohio restaurant and generally acting like the A-Hole that he is. It didn’t help that No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence looked very much like an overmatched rookie who should have been spared the David Carr treatment and sat on the bench for a season and learned the NFL trade. The Jags have added some good talent and new head coach has the advantage of not being a petulant child. Jags struggle early but play decently down the stretch to post a 6-11 record.

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