- Houston Texans (10-6) - Houston was one of the best teams in the league last season, and simply got derailed by injuries to Matt Schaub, Mario Williams, and company. This year, Schaub is back in full force, but make no mistake, this is a running team now. Yes, the Texans are big in the ground game and with the Arian Foster/Ben Tate combination, they really should be. Andre Johnson provides the downfield threat (when he's on the field) and Owen Daniels is a solid tight end option. They have lost some big-time talent on both sides of the ball up front (Mario Williams, Eric Winston to name a couple guys), but the defense is still very stout. The linebackers are upper-echelon, and this team absolutely stuffed the run last year. To be honest, the roster isn't quite up to the level of last year, but this division is absolutely putrid and they are still the class among these 4 teams.
- Tennessee Titans (8-8) - Jake Locker! That's the key to this season for Tennessee. If he's good, they have a chance at a wild-card spot. If he's bad/inconsistent, they could be going back to Hasselbeck and be stuck in the 6-win range. Couple that with Chris Johnson coming off the worst season of his career, and the fact that Kenny Britt can't stay on the field for various reasons, and you have a real question mark offensively. Fortunately for the Titans, they've added Steve Hutchinson to an already-stout offensive line, and that should help out both Locker and Johnson. Defensively, Kamerion Wimbley was acquired, and will be paired with Derrick Morgan to try to generate some pass rush. It's not a scary unit, but not one that will be getting embarrassed either. The Titans are the picture of mediocre for me, and they land at 8-8.
- Indianapolis Colts (6-10) - I have a confession. I absolutely love Andrew Luck, and I wanted to move him higher than this. I actually believe he's the Tim Duncan of football. He's beyond goofy, but stayed an extra year (or 2, or 3 in Duncan's case) in college to craft his game, he's absolutely no frills, his fundamentals are perfect, and he even claps like Duncan. Rookie QB's don't usually succeed when they don't have weapons and/or a great defense, so that's why Indy is 6-10, but I'm absolutely all in on Andrew Luck. Donald Brown, Reggie Wayne and Austin Collie return to form the nucleus of skill guys, and while that is mediocre-to-bad, keep an eye on rookie TE Coby Fleener for some impact early. The Colts sold off a lot of their defense in an effort to get cheaper/younger, and it won't be a great unit at all, but there is some promise on that side of the ball. It's a year or two early for Indy.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (4-12) - Wretched. That's the best word to describe Jacksonville. I've seen previews calling for them to garner as few as 1 win this season, and I feel that I'm being kind in giving them four. They have one game-changer in Maurice Jones-Drew and he's not even in camp due to a holdout. Blaine Gabbert stinks, the receivers stink (although I like Blackmon as a prospect), and the defense isn't good either. But hey, you have a new owner!
Stay tuned for Part Two on the way with the AFC North...