Ill-Advised NFL Previews: AFC South

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.

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You Gotta Get Psyched Up Any Way You Can.

Jacksonville Jaguars defensive tackle John Henderson forms one of the nastiest inside D-line tandems in the league with Marcus Stroud. Now, thanks to Deadspin commenter Athletic Supporter, I learn he has an amusing and unusual pre-game ritual:

The best part has to be the Lil’ Jon impression at the end of each clip. I don’t care if the coaching staff or training staff member (whomever Joe may be) that gives him a hard one across the face never faces repercussions; I’d be fucking petrified of slapping a grown-ass man as big as Henderson across his mug. I don’t care if he screamed at me to hit him. I’d still be thinking at least twice for a split-second or two.

These NFL Previews Are Not Rated: AFC South.

Previously: AFC East, AFC West. Let’s see if these can actually get better, although depending on your view of things, this is probably the apex of the previews.

1. Indianapolis Colts (Scarlett Johansson) – The class of the division, head and shoulders above everyone else. No matter what happens during the downtime (bad script selection, or the loss of defensive players of the likes of Cato June), the drop off isn’t significant enough to knock ScarJo or the Colts off the perch. Replace Brandon Stokley with rookie Anthony Gonzalez? Check. Give Joseph Addai the ball more? Check. The only question is whether the new left tackle Tony Ugoh will be able to handle Peyton’s blind side.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (Jessica Biel) – In the litany of hottie actresses on the upswing, Biel’s always running second to someone, and such is the case with the Jags. The tandem of Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor (when he isn’t pulling a groin) is as good as any one-two punch anywhere in the league, but the acrimony between coach Jack Del Rio and QB Byron Leftwich leads to underachieving, as neither trusts the other very much. The defense should be semi-solid (I think Reggie Nelson will be a beast at safety); the question really is whom Leftwich is actually going to throw to. Reggie Williams and Matt Jones have been disappointing as wideouts.

3. Houston Texans (Paris Hilton) – The Texans have a rep with an offensive line that’s allowed about as much penetration by linebackers as the hotel heiress has from pro athletes and other rich party boys.  However, there is a public attempt to get some respectability back after years of slumming it. DeMeco Ryans was the real defensive stud after the team passed on Reggie Bush and hometown hero Vince Young last year. They picked up Amobi Okoye to go with Mario Williams to get a pass-rush going, and ditched David Carr for Matt Schaub. Ahman Green may have a couple of good years left if the O-line resolves to be not quite so two-cocktails easy, and if Schaub can throw it well, he’s got targets.

4. Tennessee Titans (Lindsay Lohan) – Nothing more than wasted potential here, with the most disastrous off-season in recent memory, from the Pacman Jones saga to losing their starting running back and both starting wideouts in free agency — the Titans are going to have to hit rock bottom again to get back up. The only glimmer of hope for this team right now is Vince Young, and you don’t want to see that potential completely thrown out the window. Enjoy the cellar, Titans fans. Sorry.