Welcome back to the Fancy Boys NFL Preview. This week, we are looking at the AFC South, which in spite of being an offensive league, has one viable quarterback in the entire division. More time has been wasted on developing quarterbacks in this division than has been wasted by this administration trying to get the president to learn where Israel is on a map.
When Andrew Luck retired, it was basically an anointment of the Texans as kind of the division until Jacoby Brissett proves himself, or the Colts just up and tank this season in the hopes of drafting a QB next year. It’s all just…thrilling. Anyway, let’s dive in to the AFC South.
Team: Houston Texans
2018 Record: 11-5
My 2019 Predicted Record: 10-6
Preseason Power Ranking: 8
2019 Strength of Schedule: 4th Toughest Schedule
I’d like to say that Bill O’Brien sucks as a head coach for having his starters play in meaningless preseason games which caused his starting running back Lamar Miller to go down with a torn ACL. But Lamar Miller isn’t very good and they are undeniably better with Duke Johnson at running back, so let’s talk about all the other reasons Bill O’Brien sucks.
1: He is one of the more comically inept members of the Bill Belichick coaching tree. He parlayed that suckled teet into the head coaching spot at Penn State, which hired him ostensibly because he was the only one at the time willing to take a job more toxic than Chernobyl. He parlayed the success of developing Christian Hackenburg(!!!!) and was able to get an NFL coaching job from it. In an attempt to be a southern fried Patriots outfit, they tried to swipe one of their executives, only to get caught pretty quickly because, if anyone knows how to spot a cheater, it’s the Patriots.
2: His brain dead and now literally dead owner ran their best offensive lineman out of town and O’Brien thought to himself, “Ya know, we are good” and then watched Deshaun Watson, one of the most legitimately exciting young quarterbacks in the NFL, get the crap kicked out of him week in and week out. In the offseason they opted…to fix nothing.
3: O’Brien makes half time adjustments in the same way that Lamar Miller stays healthy, which is to say, he doesn’t. O’Brien has a game plan, and by god he is sticking with it. The only reason he hasn’t been completely exposed is because Watson is so damn good that his scrambling can make O’Brien look smarter than he already is.
That being said, they have enough talent on this roster as currently assembled that they should have a pretty easy go of the AFC South. The goal for this team will be to keep everyone healthy, and that should be enough to cruise to 10-11 wins and a division title.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: If you squint just right, then maybe.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: Yea, if they had a left tackle that was competent and there was any faith in any of the receivers behind Deandre Hopkins staying healthy.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Duke Johnson. See below.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Lamar Miller. Nobody is winning a fantasy league with Lamar Miller as their starting running back. It’s stunning that he hasn’t missed more games in his career considering I always think he is hurt. It turns out, I’m right, he gets hurt early in games A LOT and then misses the rest of the game only to show up and try to play the next week.
Editors Note: Lamar Miller went down for the season with an ACL tear, further proving my point.
If This Team Was a Song: If You’re Gonna Be Dumb, You Gotta Be Tough by Roger Allan Wade. This team is very dumb and very badly put together. I’m not sure why they are so allergic to competent offensive line play. But when you’ve got Deshaun Watson, JJ Watt, and Deandre Hopkins, you can be tough and get away with it.
Team: Jacksonville Jaguars
2018 Record: 5-11
My 2019 Predicted Record: 8-8
Preseason Power Ranking: 18
2019 Strength of Schedule: 3rd Toughest Schedule
No team has proven in recent history that success shouldn’t be the inhibitor of change. After a stunning run through the playoffs in 2017, buoyed by a great defense, the Jaguars opted not to do anything about the cancerous hole in their offense, namely “guy who is not very good at football,” quarterback Blake Bortles. They opted to stick with him and paid the price last year with an anemic offense that couldn’t keep up when their defense regressed, largely due to not being able to replicate health and turnovers.
As we all know, things went south on this team in a hurry when they had to rely on Bortles and Blair Thomas doppelganger Leonard Fournette. Bortles is gone now, replaced by Super Bowl hero Nick Foles. While this does stand out as an upgrade for the Jags, it’s worth remembering that Foles wasn’t very good for any team that wasn’t the Eagles. Remember all those great seasons he had with the Rams? Yea, neither do the Rams.
If the defense can return to form, then this is still a fearsome team on defense with a lot of question marks on offense. If everything clicks into place, this team has every chance to run through the AFC South and take the division. If everything goes wrong, this team could win four games and get a lot of people fired. I think that the Jaguars ability falls somewhere in the middle.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Even if this team was the same as last year, they had a run of bad luck that made them unable to replicate their 2017, but also means they won’t replicate their bad luck of last year.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: No, but they will at least be more interesting.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: DeDe Westbrook. In their short time being paired together on the field in the preseason, it’s been obvious that Nick Foles is looking for Westbrook a lot. Even if he’s not getting the deep balls, he will have a ton of value in PPR leagues.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Leonard Fournette. Maybe he turns it around this year and becomes the guy everyone thought he would be coming out of college. But do you really want to be the one left holding the grenade in your hand if he isn’t?
If This Team Was a Song: I dunno, some dumpy ass Jimmy Buffet song your uncle probably loves?
Team: Indianapolis Colts
2018 Record: 10-6
My 2019 Predicted Record: 6-10
Preseason Power Ranking: 22
2019 Strength of Schedule: 7th Toughest Schedule
So, this is the last preview I wrote for the AFC, and the Colts were the second to last team for me to write about, which means that while a lot of stuff you are reading is a week or two old, the Colts open, gaping flesh wound of losing their star quarterback is very fresh. I actually had the Colts listed above the Jaguars and I genuinely thought they were a lock for a wild card and possibly more.
I’m not gonna trash Andrew Luck. I respect his stance and his desire to do other things in life. So let’s look forward and try to determine what this team is. Honestly, I’m struck by the feeling that this team is mediocre to slightly below average. Jacoby Brissett is fine as a backup quarterback, and there are a lot of strong spots on this team. Darius Leonard is a tackling machine. Quentin Nelson is an old school road grater on the offensive line. TY Hilton continues to be a very good tight end. Eric Ebron showed last year that he actually does know how to catch a football.
But this team isn’t nearly as good as they would be with Luck in at quarterback. Brissett has a good arm but never showed the accuracy needed to be a star. He has always possessed a bit of happy feet in the pocket, and occasionally sees shadows, forcing him to throw the ball early. The offensive line is better, but not so good that Brissett isn’t going to be bought infinite time to stand in and find his receiver downfield.
Also, I’m not really on board with their running backs. Marlon Mack might be okay, but he also feels like a massive overdraft, especially now that people are going to be locking in on him without the threat of Luck to keep them honest. The running backs behind him are bad enough to make the Buffalo Bills blush.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: No, because Andrew Luck apparently ran over a voodoo priest’s child.
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: No, because Andrew Luck apparently ran over a voodoo priest’s child.
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: TY Hilton is just kind of super reliable as a WR1 regardless of who is throwing him the ball.
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Andrew Luck, because he apparently ran over a voodoo priest’s child.
If This Team Was a Song: Free Falling by Tom Petty. Because that’s exactly what this team is doing in power rankings, preseason previews, and gambling odds.
Team: Tennessee Titans
2018 Record: 9-7
My 2019 Predicted Record:5-11
Preseason Power Ranking: 28
2019 Strength of Schedule: 9th Toughest Schedule
I really don’t feel like talking about this team. There is nothing compelling or particularly interesting about them. They exist so people don’t feel bad about not watching Thursday Night Football. If you came in looking for analysis on this team, here it is: Marcus Mariota is a bust.
Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Nope
Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: Nope
Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Nope
Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: All
If This Team Was a Song: Whatever the worst song ever made is. Probably that Sound of Silence cover that Disturbed did.