Indianapolis Colts – The Colts have been moving slowly forward each year, advancing one further round and then losing badly to New England. This may be Super Bowl or bust for Indy. They have their own personal dragon to slay and it is the Pats. They get a shot in October to take them down. The Colts have Andrew Luck, arguably the finest QB in the game not named Russell Wilson, and strong depth and talent at RB, WR and TE. The O line isn’t spectacular but they get the job done. The Special teams are spectacular and that leaves the D. The D is what has killed their playoff hopes each and every year. They need Mathis to be healthy and their new additions, like Trent Cole, to gel and their secondary to cover and their linebackers to do a better job of stopping the run. They have an easy schedule. If all the defense ifs come true this team could be 14-2 and home field throughout the playoffs and on the way to Super Bowl 50. If they can’t beat New England and the D falters badly they might even be 11-5 and just barely win the division. I think 12-4, win the division and face potentially another January showdown in New England. Can Indy get over the hump this year? I am not 100% sure than can.
Houston Texans – The Texans are a team that rode a powerful D to a good but not good enough 9-7 record last year. They have been rewarded with a pretty easy schedule but more on that later. The Texans are still looking for a QB and it will be either Mallet or Hoyer. Coach O’Brien knows them both well and the best one will lead the squad. They have fragile Arian Foster but excellent insurance in Alfred Blue. They have new #1 WR Hopkins and Cecil Shorts is a good pickup at #2. The Tight End is a black hole and needs to accomplish something, or anything, or something. The D is a force. JJ Watt is the best player in the NFL and his game will be enhanced by veteran Vince Wilfork who will be a force in the middle all the while tutoring young Nix. If, and it’s a huge IF, Clowney can be healthy and the force he was thought he would be then this D will be lights out. They have decent LB and Safety and solid Corners. To me the whole success or failure of the season will come down to a Thursday night when they host the Indianapolis Colts in Houston on CBS. Houston has to find a way to slay the dragon or they will be perennially the #2 in their division. If they can beat Indy at home and roll through their schedule, they could be 12-4 and win the division. If they can’t beat Indy and Clowney is a bust and QB doesn’t work then they could be 9-7. I think it will be almost a great year and they will go 11-5.
Jacksonville Jaguars – Well the Jags have nowhere to go but up so they land a franchise Linebacker in the draft who will make their D a real force and he promptly blows out his knee and is done for the year. So is any shot the D had of making strides in 2015. The owner wants more out of his GM and Head Coach than 3 wins. He will be disappointed and perhaps O-line Coach Doug Marrone will have another coaching gig he can quit on in 2016. This team revolves around franchise QB Blake Bortles. They have good RB and good WR and if their new TE formerly Denver Orange Julius is healthy he could be a difference maker. The special teams are good. The D has issues on the line, at linebacker and even in the secondary. If the D can get some traction and the O grows then this team could be an amazing 8-8. I just don’t see it. The schedule isn’t a killer to most teams but it is to this one. I see a repeat 3-13 and then a new HC and GM in 2016 and watch them improve with Fowler jr. on D then. Go London Jaguars in 2016!
Tennessee Titans – The Titans landed Mariota and he will eventually turn this team around. They have a better line but still some weaknesses there, they have issues at WR, a decent TE and could have a running attack if Sankey can improve on his rookie campaign while Cobb gets off to a quick start in the NFL. The D will have Dick LeBeau overlooking them but they need a lot of help at both D line and Linebacker. The Corners and Safeties are a work in progress. The Special teams are decent. This team is probably going to be leaps and bounds better in 2016 but right now, I don’t actually see a win on their schedule. Their ‘easiest’ game is the Jets but they have to go to New York to play it. They host Buffalo and Miami but those teams are better than this one. I fear the Coach and GM will be fired with a 2-14 repeat or worse. That is a shame as give them a growing year and watch this team be ready to contend in 2016. Worse case is 0-16, best case is maybe 5-11. I will be generous and say 2-14 again. Ugh.
There it is, as always I enjoy any thoughts, comments, arguments or agreements!