2020 NFL Preview: AFC South

Written By: SimpleSlates

June 10, 2020

AFC SOUTH PREDICTIONS

The AFC South is one of those divisions that remain a mystery at the start of almost every season. The teams within the division battle to the top, and in the same breath could easily fall to the bottom. Picking winners in this division could be done by throwing darts at a dart board, you will have just about as much chance to get it right.

The competition in the AFC South is unparalleled with so many back and forth battles. In today’s article we throw a few darts at the board and hope to come away with solid predictions for the 2020 NFL Season. 

 

#1.) TENNESSEE TITANS

The Titans came on strong last season once the offense was turned over to Ryan Tannehill. Unfortunately they still had a few glaring holes that will need solutions in order to have a similar performance. 

The offense is loaded with young and talented receiving threats, and championed by who many consider the new best running back in the league, Derrick Henry. The problem they did experience last season was pass protection and with the loss of Jack Conklin, it may get worse. The Titans did attempt to plug that hole by drafting Isiah Wilson from Georgia, a prospect capable of being shuffled into a few positions on the offensive line.

Defensively the Titans rarely got the credit they deserved. While the defense wasn’t setting the world on fire, they were consistent and productive. That being said, in order to deal with some of the more potent offenses in the league in the AFC, they will need to get better. The loss of Jurell Casey hurts, and they very well may have overpaid for a subpar pass rusher in Vic Beasley. The good news is that they very likely got first round talent with the second round selection of Kristian Fulton in the draft. 

Our expectations are for a battle in the AFC South, but despite losing a bit of the shine they had last season, we think they can squeak out the division lead.

 

#2.) INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

The Colts received the shock of a lifetime when Andrew Luck retired out of nowhere last season. This left them starting Jacoby Brissett, and despite not being terrible, he also wasn’t great. The team had plenty of other holes to fill as well, and the need to do it quickly to turn the corner on being a threat in the division. 

Indy fans will be happy to sleep peacefully knowing that they did all of that. The Colts went out and signed Phillip Rivers, who should immediately boost the offense into efficiency. Add to that the draft selections of wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., and running back Jonathan Taylor from

Wisconsin, and this offense is shaping up to have quite a bit of promise in the 2020 NFL season. As a final note, the Colts managed to draft Jacob Eason, quarterback from Washington, in the fourth round. Eason has a very high ceiling, but is incredibly raw. He will have the benefit of being a low enough draft pick to not be pressured into playing early, while having the ability to learn behind a great veteran like Rivers.

The defense in Indianapolis has been a sore spot for the entire duration of the last decade. Thankfully the Colts addressed the pass rush woes this off-season by adding interior lineman DeForest Buckner. To add some extra help in the secondary they signed Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie in free agency as well. This defense looks much improved from last season, and with a more efficient offense, we should see the fruits of that labor.

While we do not expect the Colts to push hard enough to actually win the division from the Titans, we do expect them to be in contention for a Wild Card spot. That will be a tough spot to win as well for them unfortunately, but it will be interesting to watch play out.

 

#3.) HOUSTON TEXANS

This offseason the Texans basically gave away who many would consider the second best wide receiver in the league. They traded away DeAndre Hopkins for an aging running back and a second round pick. We couldn’t possibly allow that to go unpunished in our predictions. 

With the loss of Hopkins, and the hopes and dreams of the run game placed on a running back with bad knees, we expect this offense to struggle for most of the year. Watson is a quality signal caller, but we don’t expect him to do well when he is shouldering the entire weight of offensive success.

On the defensive side of the ball the Texans always seem to get it done. We don’t expect this season to be much different. It would be outstanding if J.J. Watt was able to make it an entire season without injury, but even with that happening on a regular basis they still manage to get the job done. The secondary added talent with Vernon Hargraves and Bradley Roby, giving the team the best cornerbacks it has had since Jonathan Joseph was in his prime.

Ultimately, we don’t expect this team to be able to compete with a hot Titans team and a Colts team that has significantly improved. The defense will keep them competitive, but we don’t expect them to do much beyond being a middle of the road team.  

 

#4.) JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

The term “hot mess” must have been born in the Jacksonville front office. This team, just two seasons ago, looked like it was set to become the next hot trend in the NFL. Then, it fell apart. Ramsey was traded, Telvin Smith just stopped playing football, Fowler left, and now their best pass rusher is a social media disaster clamoring for a trade. It’s just a hot mess. 

The offense has little chance to succeed in 2020. Gardner Minshew seems to have moments of promise, but they are just that, moments. The rest of the offense is anchored by an under performing top ten pick running back, Leonard Fournette. The receiving core has speed and youth, but with a terrible offensive line, it may be difficult for them to use that speed in any fashion other than chasing down defensive backs returning interceptions.

Defensively the team went from the NFL’s best to an absolute circus over the last two seasons. The only good signing they made this season was adding Joe Schobert at the linebacker position. Aside from that, it was all downhill. 

We expect the Jaguars to be competing for a top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. That would normally be at least something good for the fans to enjoy, but the Jag’s track record shows that it is just a short term rental if they do manage to hit on a talented player.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR AFC SOUTH EXPECTATIONS?

What do you think is going to happen in the AFC South for the 2020 season? Let us know in the comments below. Do you agree with or dislike our assessment of your team in this division? Again, let us know. 

As always, make sure to follow on Twitter @SimpleSlates and like us on FaceBook @SimpleSlates for more sports posts and DFS content! 

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2 Comments

  1. Indy will finish #1 in the division. Tennessee had a fluke playoff run doesn’t mean they’re gonna be good

    Reply
    • Appreciate the comment! Quite a few people have that opinion on Tennessee’s playoff run. Definitely possible that Indy takes it.

      Reply

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