AFC South (2014 Finish: Colts, Texans, Jaguars, Titans)
Overall: So, ummm, yeah. I was totally wrong about the Tennessee Titans. The less said about that the better. I was right about the rest of the division, in general, though.
I’m going to surprise a lot of people with my prediction for this division, so let’s get right to it.
2014 Record: 9-7 (Pythagorean Wins: 9.8)
2014 Division Rank: 2nd (My prediction: 3rd)
2014 Injury Rank: 11th
2015 Age Rank: 5th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 19th (21st / 6th / 28th)
Wait, what? No Indianapolis? People are predicting the Colts will be in the Super Bowl. I’ll get to them in a bit but for now let’s look at what the Texans have to offer.
Let’s face it. Their offense will not light it up. They finished 21st last year and I can’t see a dramatic improvement. I think they’ll finish around the same place.
However, their defense is spectacular. It was 6th last year and I would not be surprised with the return of Jadaveon Clowney and the arrival of Vince Wilfork if this defense gets better. J.J. Watt is the best player in the NFL right now, hands down.
Their big possible area of improvement is in special teams, and, to be frank, I have no idea how to judge that.
However, notice their Pythagorean wins: 9.8. This was a 10-win team last year. They don’t have to get much better to be in playoff contention. Also, look at how young they are. They may have a few more injuries but this team will be winning in the trenches in December.
2014 Record: 11-5 (Pythagorean Wins: 10.2)
2014 Division Rank: 1st (My prediction: 2nd)
2014 Injury Rank: 30th
2015 Age Rank: 32nd
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 12th (17th / 13th / 8th)
Ah, the presumptive favorites. I actually think this team is on the hook for a major drop. Why? They are the oldest team in the NFL. They were unlucky with injuries last year, but were also 29th in age last year suggesting a reason. Regression to the mean suggests they’ll be healthier, but they’ll continue to be close to the bottom.
Take a look at their Pythagorean wins: 10.2, or only 0.4 better than Houston. That’s not much, and younger players tend to be on the upswing of their career and older ones on the downswing. I suspect we’ll see that come in to play as Indianapolis wilts towards the end.
Furthermore, the primary reason people are suggesting the Colts will go to the Super Bowl is Andrew Luck. You won’t find a bigger fan of Andrew Luck than me, but he’s not enough, especially if he leads the NFL in fumbles again.
Don’t believe me? Look at the Colts DVOA in 2014. Their offense was their worst unit, being essentially average. I see no reason that will change, certainly not because of the old legs of Frank Gore.
Even if their offense improves some, I see a dropoff on their defense and special teams. I’m totally in the minority here, but unless they get really lucky with injuries and their Pythagorean win total this is an 8-8 team.
2014 Record: 3-13 (Pythagorean Wins: 3.6)
2014 Division Rank: 3rd (My prediction: 4th)
2014 Injury Rank: 20th
2015 Age Rank: 2nd
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 32nd (31st / 20th / 26th)
With the arrival of perennial All-Pro OT Jermey Parnell, the Jaguars will be dominant on offense…
Naw, I’m kidding. I do like Parnell and think he’ll help keep Blake Bortles upright. He’ll need the help, given that the Jaguars led the league in sacks allowed. We can’t answer whether Bortles is the answer or not if he gets sacked 3-4 times a game again.
I said last year this team was 2-3 drafts away from being a good team. I will now say this team is 1-2 drafts away.
This team will surprise some teams, especially in December because they are so young. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them beat Indianapolis when the Colts come visiting on 13 December.
Still, that will only be 1 of 4-5 wins for this team.
2014 Record: 2-14 (Pythagorean Wins: 3.3)
2014 Division Rank: 4th (My prediction: 1st)
2014 Injury Rank: 22nd
2015 Age Rank: 9th
2014 DVOA Overall (O/D/ST): 31st (29th / 29th / 20th)
Yeah, I thought they’d be good last year. I especially thought so after Snorri took me to watch them beat the Chiefs in the opener. They simply dominated the line of scrimmage.
However, they won only 1 other game, and as you can see above, they were wretched in all phases. In my defense, I thought they’d only win 9 games and the division would just be generally mediocre.
I’m pretty bullish on both Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston. I like what both of them can do, but I don’t see Mariota having enough of a supporting cast this year.
Like the Jaguars, I see incremental improvement, but this is also a team that is 1-2 drafts away.