Tag Archives: AFC South

Red’s 2021 NFL Predictions – AFC South

Red used to refer to the AFC South as “The Division of Excellence” or something like that because like Rodney Dangerfield it “got no respect” from most of the pundits despite frequently having among the best collective records of any division in the NFL.   Of course, the AFC South has all of one – count it one – NFL Championships coming with the Colts win over the Bears in 2006.  The Colts accounted for the division’s only other AFC Championship but lost to the Saints in the 2009 Superb Owl.

Last season, the division was dominated by two excellent squads with Tennessee and Indianapolis both posting 11-5 records while the Texans (4-12)  and Jaguars (1-15) soiled the bed linens.  Neither the Colts nor the Titans could make it out of the Wild Card round as the Titans lost a tough game against the Ravens while the Colts almost knocked off the Bills. 

Moving on to this season, Red doesn’t see much reason for change at the top or the bottom of this division.

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Tennessee  Titans (11-6).  Red picks the Titans to repeat as division champs.  Admittedly, it is hard to look at the Titans 2021 schedule and not wonder how exactly 10 wins will be forthcoming.   Other than the 4 games against the Texans and Jaguars there appears to be only one soft spot on the schedule in week 4 against the Jets.  But with loyal fans like Jana (originally from Germany but now woefully ensconced somewhere in Florida) who had her car “wrapped in the Tennessee Titans logo” and whose “biggest wish is for the team to autograph my car” – how can this team miss?  With the amount of offensive firepower Coach Mike Vrabel and new OC Todd Downing have at their disposal, this team should easily be among the AFC leaders in points scored if not for the fact that they play in the same conference with the Chiefs, Bills, Ravens and Browns.  Geez guys you got A J Brown, Derrick Henry and Julio Jones.  Even All-Mediocre QB Ryan Tannehill should be able to do something with that bunch. Red also likes the addition of wily veteran Jackrabbit Jenkins to the secondary  and Bud Dupree to linebacking corps.  JRJ earns the wily designation because he has scored 10 career touchdowns ranking first among active defensive players (JJ Watt may beg to differ).  If Dupree is fully recovered from his torn ACL he gives the Titans another legit edge rusher.  

99 DT DeForest Buckner

Indianapolis Colts (9-8).   The most exciting news out of the Colts training camp does not involve who will replace P. Rivers under center, but rather the Throwback Game on November 28  against the NFL Champion Buccaneers.  The big feature of the throwbacks will be the double horseshoes on the back of the helmet.  Red for one can hardly wait to see the ghosts of  Weeb Eubank, Jonny Unitas , Don Ameche and Tom Matte rallying the Colts to an OT win over the hated Buccaneers.  And for Dad, the Colts Cheerleaders (claiming to be the NFL’s first cheer squad) will also be sporting throwbacks.  Sorry no pictures available.  As for the team, who knows?  Sam Ehlinger from Texas could be the starting QB by Week 13 when the Colts come to Houston.  Ehlinger is undefeated at NRG having trounced Rice in 2019 and Missouri in the 2017 Texas Bowl.  The Colts could do worse.  As with the Titans, the Colts don’t have a favorable schedule and one that is possibly harder than the Titans with the matchup against the aforementioned defending champion Bucs.  Other than the weaklings of the AFC South and the Jets, every game looks like a toss-up. 

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Jacksonville Jaguars (6-11).  No team in the league has tried harder to get better with fewer results than the Jags.  Given the current pathetic state of London’s favorite team, it is hard to believe that the Jags were one touchdown away from playing in the Superb Owl in 2017.  Things do change fast in this era.  In the biggest news since Donald Trump professed his undying love for North Korean Dictator Kim Jung Un, new Jaguars Head Coach Urban Meyer recently declared, “I love Bobby Bowden” while mourning the death of his long-time Florida football rival at age 91.  Oh yeah, and in addition to adding the second most successful college coach of the last 20 years, the Jags have a new QB who is the latest in a long line of “can’t miss” top of the draft class rookies.  Red thinks the book is out on Trevor Lawrence until at least a couple of chapters are written.  Ask Jonny Manziel, Sam Bradshaw, Jamarcus Russell, David Carr, Vince Young, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington about this.  Coming into a sad-sack franchise often plays a role in the transformation from an NFL career back to being a working stiff (albeit a rather wealthy stiff) in civil society – and the sacks don’t get much sadder than they do in Jacksonville. 

Houston Texans (3-13-1).  Hey Bill, how many games do you think the Texans will win this year without your brilliant leadership skills? See photo above for answer.  Well the Texans would be right in claiming that  “Bad luck and trouble -my only friends.”  Perhaps the Texans were born under a bad sign.  Red won’t recount his personal travails with the franchise (like the 1422 days after the franchise opening win against the Cowboys and attending another game in which they eked out a win).  The fallout from the Bill O the Clown era will be with the team for a good while.  If there has been a more incompetent team leader, Red sure can’t summon up the name.  BO the C routinely gave the store away in trades, ran off good players, pissed off the media and the fans, repeatedly showed his incompetence in game management and yet, somehow managed to win four AFC South division titles and two playoff games.  Notably, BO the C only had one season with more than 10 wins in 2017 but then his team got gobsmacked by the Colts in the Wild Card round.   Admittedly, some blame has to be placed on the shoulders of Team President (and leading candidate for starring in a Captain Kangaroo revival) Cal McNair whose only qualification for the job is being winner of the lucky sperm club.  Oh enough whining Red.  Last year it took Red about 2 seconds to take the Texans up on their generous offer to defer purchasing season tickets.  This year it took Red at least 5 minutes to pull the plug on his 20 year run as season-ticket holder.  All that said, Red thinks the Texans will surprise a few teams.  Make  that embarrass.   Oh, and Red hears there is some news about DeShaun Watson.  Do tell.   

Red’s 2018 NFL Predictions – AFC South

Finally we get to a division that Red pays attention to – not that it matters.   This is the division of “Why do these towns have NFL teams anyway?”

Houston Texans –  Red was shocked to witness in person the offensive onslaught that Deshaun Watson led against the Titans in October.  That 57-14 ass whipping was as impressive an offensive show that Red has ever seen in a regular season NFL game.  It made Red a believer.  Red was also sadly present the next week when JJ Watt and Red favorite Whitney Mercilus went down in the space of about 57 seconds.  Losing Watson, Watt and Mercilus was the death knell for the Texans season.  Barring similarly crippling injuries this season, the Texans should be good enough to secure a playoff spot this year.  A lot rides on that first game in New England.  A win or even a credible loss will put this team on the right track.  Texans are 10-6 and in.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Lots of pundits are writing off the Jaguars as one-hit wonders and shitting on journeyman QB Blake Bortles.  BB may be mediocre but the rest of this team has enough talent to cover up the cracks.  Jaguars are also 10-6 and lose tiebreaker to the Texans.

Tennesee Titans – Red wants to believe.  Red also wants a job where you don’t have to show up and the money just sort of rolls in. Titans are 8-8 material.

Indianapolis Colts –  The Colts are just an Andrew Luck away from mediocrity.  They have no offensive line, one decent receiver, running backs???,  defense???, coaching???. Colts are 6-10.

Red’s NFL Picks – AFC South

The AFC South (once the division of excellence) is out of the woods this season and will not be the pathetic excuse for a professional football division that it has been for the last few years – despite the presence of the Jaguars.

Titans  Marcus Mariota is the best quarterback in this division. Sorry Andrew, Tom and whomever is starting for the Jaguars.  DeMarco Murray is the best running back in this division.  Titans have the best offensive line in this division.  Delanie Walker (decidedly a late bloomer) may be the best tight end in this division.  The wider receivers – eh!  But you can’t have it all.  The defense is just good enough to keep the Titans close in a lot of games.  If the ball bounces the Titans’ way this season, then they just might post the best record in the NFL.  Everyone will know after week 3 if the Titans are for real. If the Titans beat the Raiders in the opener and the Seahawks two weeks later (both home games), the buzz will be incredible as they roll into Houston on week 4.  Red can hear the bees humming now.  After dispatching the Texans, the schedule gets much easier with only three potential playoff teams (Stealers, Cardinals and Texans) on the schedule.   Titans stun the league with a 13-3 record and stroll to AFC South title.

Texans  The Texans have a great defense.  Not 84 Bears great, but possibly top twenty all time great if they force 30+ turnovers and have 50+ sacks this season.  And contrary to the public perception, it’s not all JJ Watt.  Red is suffering from a bit of JJW fatigue as heretical as that may sound.  Clowney and Whitney Mercilus (Red’s favorite) are the keys this year.  They both had tremendous seasons last year playing mostly without JJW.  Imagine what they can do when an offensive line has to focus on the big Wisconsinite as well.  The linebacking crew is solid enough and the secondary will miss Bouye but is good enough to hold coverage long enough to force opposing quarterbacks to make bad decisions.  But then there is the other side of the ball.  If the Texans can muster even a mediocre offense, they will be in a lot of games.  Red fears mediocrity may be an unreachable goal with either Savage or rookie DeShaun Watson under center and slim pickings at wideout.  Rookie D’Onta Foreman may be a force if not injured and Fiedorowizc may be moving up to elite TE status.   But may Red just say, he hopes Watson does not see serious action until late in the season.  In fact, Red will predict right now that DW will not take over until the mid-way in the Rams game in Week 10 with the 4-4 Texans trailing the Rams with the season on the line.  If Watson can right the ship at that point, the Texans have a chance to sneak into the playoffs.  But somewhere along the way, they are going to have to beat a good team.  Best chances will be at home against the Stealers or Cardinals.  Texans are 9-7 and slip under the door as the last wildcard team.

Jaguars  Can Tom Coughlin resuscitate the long dormant Jaguars? It seems like ancient history now, but when Coughlin was at the helm at the dawn of the franchise, the Jaguars surprised the football world by playing in the AFC championship game in their second season.  He made the playoffs the next 3 seasons as well – again playing for and losing the AFC title in season 5.  Since then, 3 winning seasons and no playoff victories.  By comparison, the Texans are entering their 16th season and have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs in their 4 playoff appearances and a current 9 year playoff drought.  Coughlin has tidied up if not cleaned house with 5 new assistant coaches, multiple free agent acquisitions on defense and picking up LSU back Leonard Fournette with the 4th pick of the draft.  But under center is still Blake Bortles.  Red bet big on BB last season and doesn’t really want to talk about it. In his 4th season, BB had better show signs of life or accept his fate as a back-up quarterback.  The Jags are mediocre at best.  But after a 3-13 campaign in 2016, mere mediocrity may be viewed as a triumph.  Jacksonville goes 8-8.

Colts  Who are the Colts anymore anyway?  Red has no clue with the multiple roster changes since last season..  Unfortunately for the Colts neither does head coach Chuck Pagano who has seemed in over his head at times during back to back 8-8 seasons in a division that the Colts used rule like kings of old.  And speaking of old – there’s tired old Frank Gore who probably used up whatever was left in the tank last season when he became the first running back to rush for 1000 yards since John Riggins (OTNAs 1984).  Maybe the news gets any better on defense only because it really couldn’t get worse for the league’s 30th ranked defense.  A whole new linebacking corps led by Barkevious Mingo may help, but beyond Vontae Davis the secondary will likely remain porous.  The whole thing turns on the reappearance of Andrew Luck and that is not a good sign.  Luck at his best with a lot of fearsome weapons was not that good.  A more average Luck with little to work with could be plain awful.  But Luck is the Colts best chance to avoid ignominy this season. Maybe Punter Pat McAfee had it right.  After a nice 8 year career (including two Pro Bowl appearances) he hung up the cleats to try his had at stand-up comedy.  There will be laughs this season, but they’ll be laughing at the Colts not with them.  Indianapolis 2-14.