The AFC South is setting up to be a fascinating division in 2020.
The Tennessee Titans, Indianapolis Colts, and Houston Texans all figure to be in the mix come December, while the Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be hitting the reset button once again.
Bovada currently has the Colts listed as slight favorites to finish atop the division at +120, followed by the Titans at +170, and Houston at +300.
Meanwhile, a longshot on the lowly Jaguars would cash at nearly 25:1, as Bovada has them as the frontrunners to end up with the first pick in next year’s draft.
Remember The Titans
Following a Cinderella run in last year’s playoffs, the Titans have some serious momentum heading into 2020.
The Ryan Tannehill/Derrick Henry dynamic worked wonders for Tennessee late last season, as they went 7-3 down the stretch to clinch a Wild Card berth.
Head coach Mike Vrabel has asserted himself as an old-school kind of guy, so expect more of the same from this smashmouth football team next season.
Vrabel’s philosophy is centered around a run-heavy scheme complemented by a solid defensive unit, and a quarterback who doesn’t turn the football over.
This was the recipe for success in Nashville last year, as Henry’s sudden emergence as an elite running back helped carry this ball club to the AFC Championship Game.
No doubt in my mind, Tennessee will be right in the thick of things this upcoming season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Vrabel leads this group to a division title for the first time since 2008.
New Era in Indy
There’s a new sheriff in town.
Philip Rivers, who will be 39 in November, signed a one-year, $25 million deal this offseason with the Colts.
Coming off his worst year as a pro, general manager Chris Ballard took a major risk in signing the veteran quarterback back in March.
Rivers teams up with head coach Frank Reich, as the tandem reportedly hit it off throughout the negotiation process.
Likely to finish his career in Indy, Rivers is the type of quarterback who can take the Colts to the next level in 2020, Ballard believes.
The roster is built beautifully around him, as the team boasts an elite offensive line to go along with a solid running game.
Rookie Jonathan Taylor figures to be a feature back in this Colts offense, as he will help form a nasty 1-2 punch with current running back Marlon Mack.
Meanwhile, second-round wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. will help transform an Indianapolis passing game that struggled a year ago.
The perfect complement to Pro Bowl wideout T.Y. Hilton, expect Pittman to be an immediate contributor for this Colts team.
A well-run franchise from top to bottom, there’s no reason why Indianapolis shouldn’t compete for another division title in 2020.
Houston, We Have a Problem
Mark my words — the Houston Texans will be massive underachievers next season.
Houston’s blemishes have been overshadowed time and time again by Deshaun Watson’s heroics, and expect that to come to a screeching halt here in 2020.
Bill O’Brien has now taken the reins of general manager for a franchise that is dysfunctional as an organization.
The trading of DeAndre Hopkins this offseason might have been the turning point for Watson, as rumors are swirling that he’s fed up with O’Brien’s antics.
I expect Houston to struggle mightily in what has the makings of being a rather turbulent and uneven 2020.
The roster is simply not what it used to be in years past, and when you compound that with weak ownership and poor head coaching, you get a sub-.500 football team.
Tanking for Trevor?
Not much to say here — the Jaguars are all but tanking this season away.
After a fire sale that saw Pro Bowlers Jalen Ramsey and Calais Campbell shipped to Los Angeles and Baltimore, respectively, the Jaguars have officially hit the reset button once again.
Gardner Minshew is in line to take a majority of the snaps at quarterback while the front office thoroughly assesses this roster, as they must figure out which players are part of their future plans.
With a top pick in next year’s draft looming, it will be fascinating to see what the team ends up doing with Minshew, given his admirable performance last season.
Plenty of question marks remain for a franchise just four years removed from an AFC Championship Game appearance, as it goes to show how quickly things change in the NFL.
Brighter days are ahead in Jacksonville, but nevertheless, expect double-digit losses for Doug Marrone’s group this season.
- Tennessee Titans: 9-7
- Indianapolis Colts: 9-7
- Houston Texans: 6-10
- Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-14
I like the Titans to emerge as division winners in 2020, as stability at the quarterback position will be the deciding factor in what figures to be a two-horse race in the AFC South.