The AFC South, once the laughingstock of the NFL, is shaping as one of the league's most competitive divisions in 2017, even if it is not amongst the strongest yet. At least three teams have a legitimate chance to take the crown and punch a ticket to the playoffs. Let's get into predictions!
1. Indianpolis Colts (10-6)
The Colts lead the way in the division mainly due to the presence of Andrew Luck. Luck is far and away the best quarterback in the division and a solid offseason under new General Manager Chris Ballard should lead to an improved defense anchored by the newly signed Jonathan Hankins and early round draft choices Malik Hooker and Quincy Wilson. The team still has questions, particularly at linebacker and offensive line, but Luck should be able to mask those flaws going against the league's weakest schedule and guide the Colts back to the postseason.
2. Tennessee Titans (9-7)
The Titans steady improvement should continue in 2017, as Marcus Mariota continues his ascension to stardom and Demarco Murray and Derek Henry form a two headed monster on the ground. The Titans added Corey Davis with the 5th overall choice in the draft and while it may have been a reach it certainly adressed a need. The defense may not be filled with stars but Jurell Casey is a criminally underrated asset. If the secondary holds up and Mariota continues to improve it is quite possible the Titans could take the AFC South crown.
3. Houston Texans (8-8)
Many Texans fans feel that by trading up to grab Desean Watson 12th overall in the draft, they have found their savior. Time will tell if that proves to be true but I do not expect Watson to have much success. Coming into the league as a rookie QB without an elite ground game to lean on is challenging, and while Lamar Miller has shown flashes, the Texans offensive line simply isn't good enough for Miller to rack up more than 1,200 yards. The defense, particularly with Watt's return should be dominant again but QB struggles and holes on the line will hold the defending division champions back.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (6-10)
The Jaguars continue to splurge on free agents even as big money signings such as Julius Thomas flop in Jacksonville. Calais Campbell should help a talented young defense headed by Jalen Ramsey, Telvin Smith, and Yannick Ngakoue. Success will likely come down to Blake Bortles and whether or not he can solve his turnover problem. Leonard Fournette on the ground and Brandon Albert protecting the blindside should help the young gunslinger, but should he fail to impress new coach Doug Marrone will begin to look for his replacement.