PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Colts 12-4
2. Texans 8-8
3. Jaguars 3-13
4. Titans 2-14
Despite having the #1 player as determined by the NFL Network’s Top 100 Players of 2015, the Texans will be saddled by offensive struggles. Linebacker JJ Watt may come close or even break the NFL’s single-season sack record, but unless he has a rocket cannon for an arm and laser point accuracy, Houston’s offensive ineptness will squander the defense’s efforts. Running back Arian Foster was believed to be lost for the season due to a groin injury, but reports are coming out that he could be back as soon as October due to a successful surgery.
Jacksonville and Tennessee will once again be the AFC South’s bottom feeders. Jacksonville is in the second season of the Blake Bortles experience and could be tough out week-to-week but they don’t have the players to make a serious playoff run.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota, the second pick overall from Oregon, is the starter in Tennessee and will go through the usual growing pains. I am aware of the recent successes that rookie quarterbacks have had. In 2012, three rookie quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs. Andrew Luck was the first overall pick by the Colts. Washington traded their draft and future picks to the Rams for Robert Griffin III. Russell Wilson fell to the Seahawks in the third round. Each of those quarterbacks were drafted by teams with a strong supporting cast. Out of those three, Wilson was the only one to win a playoff game that season - against Washington in the first round where Griffin suffered a knee injury. In later years, Wilson has taken the Seahawks to back-to-back Super Bowls – winning one and losing the most recent one. Luck has guided the Colts to three straight playoff appearances and has more playoff wins (3) when compared to Peyton Manning’s first three NFL seasons (0). Griffin has faced several injuries and is believed to be on the way out of Washington.
Let’s face it. This will probably be the Colts’ division for the foreseeable future and I think I probably said it last year. In the offseason, Indianapolis signed running back Frank Gore and wide receiver Andre Johnson. Though both players probably signed with the Colts to play on a championship contender, Indianapolis is expected to make the playoffs because of the combination of Luck and receiver T.Y. Hilton. Last season Luck passed for 4,761 yards and 40 touchdowns while Hilton caught 83 passes for 1,345 yards and 7 touchdowns as the Colts made a run to the AFC Championship Game.
Despite playing in a weak division, I expect the Colts to be in the playoffs come January.