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2013 AFC South Preview

AFC: East | North | South | West         NFC: East | North | South | West

2012 Common Opponents: AFC East, NFC North
2013 Common Opponents: AFC West, NFC West

The most likely result for the AFC South in 2013 has to be for the teams to finish in the same order as last season. However, our stats show that the Texans and Colts both overachieved in 2012, which means the Titans could get into the mix if the stars align for them. While we expect Houston and Indianapolis to be right in the mix for playoff spots, we don't foresee either team really contending for the Super Bowl.

Houston Texans

2012 Record: 12-4
2012 Rating: 2.4 (11th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 9.5
2013 Division Rank Opponents: NE & BAL
2013 Preliminary Rating: 0.7 (13th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 8.4

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
WR - Kevin Walter / 78 / TEN >>> DeAndre Hopkins / 79 / rk
G - Ben Jones / 78 / - >>> Brandon Brooks / 78 / -
LB - Brady James / 80 / FA >>> Brian Cushing / 85 / inj
LB - Connor Barwin / 81 / PHI >>> Whitney Mercilus / 78 / -
S - Glover Quin / 80 / DET >>> Ed Reed / 87 / BAL

Despite Barwin and Quin signing lucrative contracts elsewhere, the Texans arguably return an even stronger roster for 2013. Brian Cushing returns from injury, while Ed Reed also represents an upgrade if he can get healthy. But while the roster looks good, the stats hint at some potential trouble. Despite claiming the #3 seed in the AFC, the Texans finished as only our 11th rated team in the league, winning a whole 2.5 more games than we calculate they deserved. They drop to 13th in our preliminary 2013 ratings due to their success mostly coming in several areas that are more likely to regress. While Houston still benefits from an easy division where they deserve to be favored, they may face stiffer competition from the Colts in 2013. We still don't consider the Texans real Super Bowl contenders despite their impressive 2012 record.

Indianapolis Colts

2012 Record: 11-5
2012 Rating: -0.3 (20th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 8.5
2013 Division Rank Opponents: MIA & CIN
2013 Preliminary Rating: 0.6 (14th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 8.6

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
RB - Vick Ballard / 78 / - >>> Ahmad Bradshaw / 82 / NYG
WR - Donnie Avery / 79 / KC >>> Darrius Heyward-Bey / 80 / OAK
G - Jeffrey Linkenbach / 73 / - >>> Donald Thomas / 80 / NE
T - Winston Justice / 79 / FA >>> Gosder Cherilus / 84 / DET
DT - Antonio Johnson / 74 / TEN >>> Aubrayo Franklin / 82 / SD
DE - Ricardo Mathews / 76 / - >>> Ricky Jean-Francois / 83 / SF
LB - Dwight Freeney / 82 / SD >>> Erik Walden / 76 / GB
CB - Cassius Vaughn / 73 / - >>> Greg Toler / 82 / ARI
S - Tom Zbikowski / 78 / CHI >>> LaRon Landry / 83 / NYJ

The Colts were very lucky to finish with 2.5 more wins than they deserved in 2012 and make the playoffs, registering only 20th in our 2012 ratings. However, our preliminary ratings show that their success came in more repeatable categories like passing offense, while their deficiences were in several areas that are more likely to return closer to the league average, boosting them to an expected rank of 14th in 2013. Add to that some quality offseason additions, and there is reason for hope in Indy after all. A bit under the radar, the Colts actually spent a lot of money this offseason upgrading some of their really poor positions from 2012. While it remains to be seen whether the signings were worth the dollar amounts in the long term, the Colts will certainly come into the 2013 season with a stronger roster than they had the prior year. Though the Colts could still possibly miss the playoffs in 2013, they also have a reasonable chance of winning the AFC South and making more noise in the playoffs.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2012 Record: 2-14
2012 Rating: -5.6 (30th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 4.9
2013 Division Rank Opponents: BUF & CLE
2013 Preliminary Rating: -2.1 (30th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 6.8

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
RB - Rashad Jennings / 74 / OAK >>> Maurice Jones-Drew / 87 / inj
G - Michael Brewster / 70 / - >>> Will Rackley / 75 / inj
T - Cameron Bradfield / 78 / - >>> Luke Joeckel / 82 / rk
DT - Terrance Knighton / 82 / DEN >>> Roy Miller / 79 / TB
DT - C.J. Mosley / 81 / DET >>> Sen'Derrick Marks / 78 / TEN
DE - Jeremy Mincey / 81 / - >>> Jason Babin / 84 / PHI
LB - Julian Stanford / 73 / - >>> Geno Hayes / 78 / CHI
CB - Derek Cox / 80 / SD >>> Dwayne Gratz / 77 / rk
CB - Aaron Ross / 76 / NYG >>> Alan Ball / 75 / HOU
S - Dawan Landry / 81 / NYJ >>> John Cyprien / 79 / rk

The Jaguars did deserve more like 5 wins than the 2 they managed in 2012, but that's not saying much. Jacksonville did do a good job of getting rid of bad players in the offseason. The offense should be improved with a couple of upgrades on the o-line and the return of Maurice Jones-Drew. However, on defense they appear to have possibly replaced bad with worse. The passing offense did improve slightly from their horrible 2011 season, but much of the progress occurred when Blaine Gabbert was injured. Unless Gabbert makes huge strides this season, which we wouldn't bet on, expectations for Jacksonville should be about as low as any team in the NFL.

Tennessee Titans

2012 Record: 6-10
2012 Rating: -3.2 (27th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 6.3
2013 Division Rank Opponents: NYJ & PIT
2013 Preliminary Rating: -1.3 (27th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 7.3

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
TE - Jared Cook / 83 / STL >>> Delanie Walker / 79 / SF
C - Fernando Velasco / 80 / FA >>> Robert Turner / 79 / STL
G - Steve Hutchinson / 81 / ret >>> Andy Levitre / 83 / BUF
G - Deuce Lutui / 78 / FA >>> Chance Warmack / 80 / rk
DT - Sen'Derrick Marks / 78 / JAC >>> Sammie Lee Hill / 80 / DET
DE - Kamerion Wimbley / 84 / - >>> Ropati Pitoitua / 79 / KC
LB - Colin McCarthy / 79 / - >>> Moise Fokou / 79 / PHI
S - Jordan Babineaux / 79 / FA >>> Bernard Pollard / 80 / BAL

Coming off a poor season and only making minor roster changes, it's hard to expect much from the Titans in 2013. But they do have some hope for development because they have a very young squad. Ultimately, their fate will largely rest on whether QB Jake Locker can improve in his 3rd year in the league with a healthier Kenny Britt.

AFC: East | North | South | West         NFC: East | North | South | West

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