NFL Tips | 2016 Preview | AFC South | 11th September 2016

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THE AFC South looks tight this year. How does Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) see it panning out in the months ahead?

AFC South | 11th September 2016

Houston Texans

So you have everything you need apart from the most important position on the team. A bit like Arsenal and a competent centre forward, Houston appear to have all the pieces of the jigsaw in place bar a Quarterback.

What do you do in that situation? Well if you are not owned by Stan Kroenke, you throw your bankroll at it and take a punt. Handing a $72m (yes Seventy Two MILLION Dollars) to a Quarterback with a seven game career is a bit like throwing £80m at Man United for Marcus Rashford.

Well, Brock Ostweiller did a stellar job taking Denver toward Superbowl glory. Particularly as he had never started a game before Peyton Manning succumbed to injury and age.

He did really well in a kind of Matt Cassel replacing Tom Brady kind of way. For the sake of a team I quite like, I hope Ostweillers career pans out better than Cassel’s.

Losing Arian Foster is no big deal for Houston. Foster missed 23 games in the last two seasons. They will barely notice he’s not there and Lamar Miller has very similar qualities and has a very good chance of eclipsing Foster’s good years in Texas.

DeAndre Hopkins caught a career best 111 passes and most of those were thrown by Bryan Hoyer. The Texans are reported to be very hopeful that Braxton Miller and Will Fuller can compete well for the two and three spots.

The defence remains intact and I still have faith that Jadeveon Clowney can live up to the hype at last. JJ Watt remains the games star on the defensive side of the ball and it is tough to score against any team with Watt in it.

Prediction: 11-5 surprise team in the AFC and could go a very long way

Indianapolis Colts

It appears blindingly obvious that the reason for the Colts dreadful 8-8 season was Andrew Luck missing nine games but it’s more than that. Luck took more hits and pressure than any other signal caller in the games he did manage to play. The Offensive Line was about the worst in football and was the biggest problem for the front office.

After a pattern of recruiting skill positions first, three of the Colts first five picks were spent on Offensive Lineman and all are expected to start after some eye catching performances in camp.

If the Colts are to make any improvement and justify the contract extension given to Chuck Pagano, Luck needs to stay healthy and the only way he can do that is if he stays protected.

Another thing that did not really pay off last year was the recruitment of ‘experienced’ players. Andre Johnson and Frank Gore took up a lot of salary cap space and little else.

I would expect Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett to see a lot more action this season whilst T.Y Hylton will remain Luck’s number one target.

Defence is now the biggest issue facing Coach Pagano. Indy need to find someone other than Robert Mathis capable of putting sustained pressure on opposing Quarterbacks.

Prediction: 10-6 battling to take the division back from Houston. One and done.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Entertainment guaranteed. Blake Bortles. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson were part of an almost Newcastle United under Keegan kind of approach to sport.

There were times when these guys clicked, they looked for brief moments like they had something. but it was all smoke and mirrors. No Quarterback turned the ball over more than Bortles. Then again no Quarterback was sacked more often.

On the bright side, only the Saints porous defence conceded more points than Jacksonville. 31 is better than 32. In the end 5-11 was better than it could have been and to be fair they have addressed the issue of a leaky defence.

Malik Jackson, Tashaun Gipson and Prince Amukmara were acquired in free agency. Big draft picks were spent on Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack who will join 2015 first round pick Dante Fowler in a much revamped unit.

Chris Ivory is a big addition to the backfield options. I think Gus Bradley is giving serious thought to a run at the playoffs but anything better than last season will be acceptable.

Prediction: The new Defence provides a huge step forward for the franchise 8-8

Tennessee Titans

It says a lot about Tennessee football fans that they are prepared to accept Mike Mularkey in charge of their team for another year after a sleep inducing 3-13 disaster of a season. Not quite sure what it says but it says a lot.

One of the things that stood out about last season for the Titans was the almost complete absence of weapons for a Heisman Trophy winning number two pick franchise Quarterback. Marcus Mariota did an ok job in his rookie season and deserves a better team than he has been presented with. In every department.

The front office had a pretty impressive off season when it came to certain areas of the team. DeMarco Murray is a standout pickup. At least the 2014 version is anyway.

Let’s hope his experience with Chip Kelly has not destroyed him. Second round draft pick Derrick Henry will give Mularkey the opportunity to play his ‘exotic smashmouth football’ whatever the hell that is.

Releasing Dorial Green Beckham makes little sense to me especially as that leaves no recognised number one receiver. The Titans have totally failed to address their awful defence and that has to be a worry for Titans fans. Hard to see much of an improvement.

Prediction: More of the same really. Mariota may get them a couple of extra wins

AFC Best Bets

New England Patriots to win AFC (15/4 Bet365)

Khalil Mack to be Regular Season Sack Leader (4/1 Bet365)

New England Patriots to finish with Best Record (15/2 Bet365)

Cleveland Browns to finish with Worst Record (4/1 Bet365)

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I have been interested in betting since a stint managing a bookmakers 20 years ago. I now work in the travel industry but spend 90% of my day thinking (and talking)about sport. Rarely missing an Arsenal home game, I still find time for my 25 year obsession with the NFL and the Chicago Bears in particular. I'm still stuck in the 80's and can't find anything better to listen to than The Jam or The Smiths. I am a stats junkie where the NFL is concerned and there is no sport in the world where they matter more. My mission is to convert you all to a wonderful sport. Oh and win a few quid along the way.

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