Why is this the last of the Eligible Receiver NFL previews? It's the AFC South. If that isn't explanation enough, all will become clear as you read. In short, finding good things to say about the teams in this division which do not play home games in Indiana is like trying to find a silver lining after a bad first date. "Well, she said she liked the movie." "She said she'll be busy for the next month, but I think she definitely wants to go out after that." Do we know this from personal experience? Let's just move on, in order of our projected finish, shall we?
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS (11-5 in 2013)
Why They'll Win: They have Andrew Luck. The other starting quarterbacks in this division are Jake Locker (until he gets hurt), Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Chad Henne (until Blake Bortles takes the helm of the sinking Jacksonville ship). Good grief.
The Colts have outscored their opponents by just 25 points in the last two years, but won 22 games in those two regular seasons. Is Luck that good in close games? Maybe. Is that number affected by the incompetence of their division opponents? Yes. A thousand Matt Schaub pick sixes yes.The Colts are not a great team. Their best receiver started his career catching passes from Johnny Unitas in Baltimore, is now 118 years old, and is coming off a torn ACL (Note: only one of those things is confirmed). Their best running back is Trent Richardson. Again, their best running back is Trent Richardson. However, they have Luck, Pagano mania, a good tight end with a great name in Coby Fleener, and the advantage of two games each against the other teams in this awful division.
Why They'll Lose: If Luck gets hurt, say good night. That's not out of the real of possibility since Houston has J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney. If they turn Luck into a wishbone, it's all over for Indy. Quick, who's the colts' backup quarterback? Yeah, we had to Google it too.
HOUSTON TEXANS (2-14 in 2013)
Why They'll Win: Jadeveon Clowney is legitimately terrifying. No, he doesn't go hard on every play. Breaking news: most players don't. What Clowney can do is occupy two blockers at all times, and on occasion show off athletic ability shared by few. He can change a game in one play. Oh, and they also have J.J. Watt. Andre Johnson can still play. Arian Foster, when helathy, can still play. Fitzpatrick is an Ivy Leaguer. Brains have to count for something, right? If he can manage games and the defense can bend, mutilate, and fold people, Houston could be a 9-7 team in this division.
Why They'll Lose: They were awful last year because their quarterbacks were horrific. Ryan Fitzpatrick to the rescue? No. Andre Johnson has done everything short of hijack a plane to get out of town. Arian Foster has as much chance of staying healthy as the guys who kidnapped Liam Neeson's daughter in Taken. Clowney could start losing motivation and start hitting buffets hard if the season goes off the track.
TENNESSEE TITANS (7-9 in 2013)
Why They'll Win: They unloaded the dead weight of Chris Johnson, who ran the past two years as if carrying the dead weight of all the fantasy owners whose dreams he trampled into the turf. They brought in Ken Whisenhunt to replace Mike Munchak as coach. Whisenhunt won a Super Bowl as the Steeler's OC, took the CARDINALS (you're damn right we're yelling) to a Super Bowl as head coach, then took the Chargers offense from 31st in the league to 5th as an OC. Munchak's resume consists largely of being a good lineman as a player and an organization guy as a coach. Moving from Munchak to Whisenhunt is like swapping an upper deck seat for a sideline pass. If Whisenhunt can show Jake Locker how to a) stay upright and b) make the football go to his intended target, they'll induct him into the Grand Ole Opry. Bishop Sankey can play, and also has one of the best names in the league.
Why They'll Lose: If (when) Locker gets hurt, they get to choose between Charlie Whitehurst, Zach Mettenberger, and coaxing Dan Pastorini or
The Titans' future starting QB?
Ken Stabler out of retirement (note to fans under 30: the Titans used to be the Houston Oilers). Suffice it to say these are not ideal options. Lots of experts are excited about Sankey, but the Titans have Shonn Greene ahead of him on the depth chart, so how good could he be? Quick, name a guy on the Titans' defense. If you succeeded, chances are you either live in Nashville or in the center of a very lonely existence. The Steel Curtain they are not.
Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12 in 2013)
Why They'll Win: A selective outbreak of ebola in the locker rooms of everyone on their schedule could give them a decent shot at going 8-8.
Why They'll Lose: Ah, Jaguars. How do ye suck? Let me count the ways. First, they're pretty openly tanking this year NBA-style. If you purposely play Chad Henne over the guy you drafted third overall, there's a problem. The draft pick in question, Blake Bortles, screams "guy who looks good on paper and in drills but can't play football." At no point in his college career did he do anything mind-blowing. Poor Maurice Jones-Drew was so traumatized by his years in Jacksonville that he voluntarily went to the Oakland Raiders. Rest in peace if you can, MJD. GM David Caldwell seems to have a plan, which is a huge improvement for this team, but the plan does not include winning this year.