1) Indianapolis Colts – The Colts defense wasn’t too damn shabby last year except for the part where they let Billy Volek and Michael Turner beat them. Now, I know Turner’s a stud, but you don’t let the back-up QB and RB come into your house and beat you after getting a bye week. If Tony Dungy has reconsidered his stance on not playing his starters in Week 17, this team is always primed to go somewhere. This year, he may have to play his starters in Week 17. The division should be tighter than ever this year, but expect Peyton Manning (as if he won’t be starting, come on) and his offensive weapons like Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Joseph Addai, and even second-year wideout Anthony Gonzalez to bring it.
2) Jacksonville Jaguars* – Too much talent everywhere but the wide receiver position to not repeat as a Wild card team. Signing Jerry Porter is not enough of a move to improve a receiving corps, because somehow Matt Jones is still a starting wideout. (Maybe all the coke helps with that SEC speed.) The defense is still pretty stout, even after letting Marcus Stroud go to Buffalo. David Garrard is efficient enough and smart with the ball; he doesn’t throw picks, and he’s got Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield — MoJo’s presence gives me an excuse to post this again:
(That’ll get you a Will Muschamp-style “BOOM, MOTHERFUCKER!” every day of the week and twice on Sundays.)
3) Tennessee Titans – Vince Young needs more receivers. So they go and grab Alge Crumpler from the Falcons to play TE — good move, but they add damn nothing in the wideout corps and draft an RB in the first round (admittedly, in Chris Johnson’s defense, he looks really, really good.) The defense looks about as stout and run-stuffing as it was last year, so that will carry it to win games, but I don’t see three teams from this division going to the playoffs this year.
4) Houston Texans – There’s too much if/when/come attached to the Texans right now. It’s a lot of “Will Matt Schaub stay healthy?” and if there is actually a running game down there (Gary Kubiak needs to hope that Steve Slaton brings it big-time, Ahman Green has been a waste of money.) Defensively, there’s a lot to like about this team up front and in the linebacking corps with Mario Williams continuing to justify his #1 selection a few years back and DeMeco Ryans getting better, never mind Amobi Okoye’s upside. Shame they have to be in the best division in the conference, but if certain things click in the running game, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them leave the Titans in the cellar instead.