AFC South plays the AFC North and the NFC North.
Texans were 8-8 last year, their best record in their 6 year history. They will also play the Dolphins and at Oakland.
Texans were 8-8 last year, but they were 7-3 outside their division. The losses were at San Diego, at Cleveland, and at Atlanta (how'd that happen?). Well, the point is that this is a good team stuck in a very good division (AFC South led the league in the W-L totals, with a 42-22 record. The NFC East was a close second with 40-24). Head Coach Gary Kubiak starts his 3rd year with the Texans, who went 6-10 his first year (after a 2-14 season) and is patiently building his team. He brought Denver's zone blocking scheme with him, and hit pay dirt when he lured the zone blocking guru of all time, Alex Gibbs, to Houston. Gibbs is fiery (he'll scream at his players) but he knows the system better than anyone. Houston traded with Denver for fourth year Center Chris Myers, who was capable last year for Denver when Tom Nalen went out with a torn bicep. In the first round, they drafted OT Duane Brown from Virginia Tech. Brown was considered a reach by many, but Gibbs lobbied for him, so it wasn't a reach. He'll replace aging Ephraim Salaam sooner or later, and it looks like sooner, since Salaam suffered a knee injury that kept him out of the pre season, and he's now listed as the backup at both tackle positions. At any rate, the O line should be better than last year.
QB Matt Schaub was good last year, his first after being Vick's back up in Atlanta. He passed for 2,241 yards despite missing about half the season with injuries. Back up Sage Rosenfels is maybe the best back up QB in the league - 1,684 yards last year (154 of 240, 15 TD's and 12 INT's) in his five starts and as a replacement in four other games. At RB, Texans have Ahman Green (the oft injured) and they brought in Chris Brown from Tennessee and drafted speedy Steve Slaton in the third round. They let Ron Dayne go, despite his 773 yards on 194 carries (4.0 per). They recently made Ahman Green take a huge pay cut or, presumabley, he'd have been cut.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson is one of the best in the league when he's not injured (he led the league last year with an average of 94.6 yards per game, but missed 7 games - still had 851 yards on the year). Texans have a lot of other receivers - Kevin Walter had 800 yards, TE Owen Daniels had 768, and Andre Davis had 583. Jacoby Jones should come on in his second year.
Texans have mostly been investing in the D lately, but it was just 24th in the league last year. DE Mario Williams was huge in his second year with 14 sacks. DT Amobi Okoye should be very good in his second year. LB DeMeco Ryans in his third year is already one of the best.
Colts were 13-3 last year, but lost at home in the playoffs to the Chargers, 28-24. They will play the AFC North and the NFC North, and also New England and at San Diego.
What's the big news in the I place? The brand new retractable roof stadium, that cost about twice as much as the seven year old Mile High Stadium? Or the fact that Peyton Manning has sat out the pre-season with a very sore knee (he had surgery to remove the bursa sac). This is the same injury that pretty much sidelined Marvin Harrison for almost all of last year. But Manning was recently taken off the PUP list, and is practicing (lightly) with the team, but it's still very questionable whether he'll be ready to go in the regular season opener. Luckily that opener is against the Bears, who don't have a quarterback either, and it will be a home game for the Colts, in their new home dome, quaintly named the Lucas Oil Stadium.
Anyway, if Manning can't go, either Jim Sorgi, the long time back up, or Quinn Gray, who was quite good at J'Ville last year, when David Garrard missed a few games, will try to replace him. My bet would be on Gray over Sorgi.
Colts have to play four teams that made the playoffs last year (at Green Bay, New England, at Pittsburgh, and at San Diego) plus they have to play in their own rugged division, which sent two other teams to the playoffs last year. Tough schedule.
Anyway, in addition to Manning's injury problems, DE Dwight Freeney and safety Bob Sanders are recuperating from surgeries, although they are practicing with the team. Marvin Harrison seems to be okay, although his expensive, custom made handgun was involved in a shooting in Philadelphie this spring. Harrison initially denied involvement, but it's clear that it was his gun that did the shooting. At any rate, another distraction for the Colts.
They still have Coach Dungy, one of the best, and a good solid team. Good O line, although they allowed nine more sacks in 07 than 06, but some of that was due to injury. Joseph Addai is the RB (Dominic Rhodes returns from a one year sabbatical in Oakland to be the backup), Dallas Clark is the TE, and Reggie Wayne and second year guy Anthony Gonzales are the receivers (2,702 yards combined by those three). Addai added 364, but Manning threw for 4,040 total last year, so you know they have a few other receivers. Colts' O was 5th in the league last year, but they lost starting tackle Jake Scott (to Tennessee in free agency) which is not good since they allowed nine more sacks in 07 than 06. They're hoping that 2nd round pick Mike Pollack (Arizona State) can take over for Scott.
Colts' D was 3rd in the league last year, and the O was fifth. (So how did they manage to lose to the Chargers in the playoff game at home last year with Billy Volek at QB and Michael Turner at RB?) The big question is, will Manning be OK?, and even if he is, can they get past the likes of New England and San Diego (Colts were 0-3 against those two teams last year, and play them both this year).
Jaguars were 11-5 last year. They will play the AFC North and also the NFC North. They'll also play Buffalo and at Denver.
Jags lost five games last year, four in their own division (two to Indy, one to Tennessee and one to Houston, but that was the last game of the season when the Jags were resting). Put this team in the NFC West and they'd maybe go 15-1 or something. David Garrard was a stellar 208 - 325 - 2,509 with 18 TD's and just 3 INT's. But he missed a few games with injuries, and the Jags have let his very capable backup, Quinn Gray, go to the Colts in free agency. They added aging Joey Porter at the wide position, but he's mostly been injured this pre season. It's fair to say that the wide position is not a big strength of the Jags.
But running back is, with Fred Taylor getting 1,202 (5.4 per) and Maurice Jones-Drew getting 768 (4.6 per). Jags were 2nd in the league in rushing, 17th in passing. They were 12th in the league on D, but felt they needed more pass rush, so they gave up five draft picks to move up in the first two rounds of the draft, to take DE's Derrick Harvey from Florida State in the 1st, and Quentin Groves in the 2nd from Auburn. Unfortunately, they lost 3rd year DE James Wyche for the season with an injury, and Harvey held out until August 27 before signing, so how much will he help this year? And reports are that Groves is playing like a rookie.
Jags are well coached (Jack Del Rio) and despite some problems, will be a force in the NFL this year.
Titans were 10-6 last year. They'll play the AFC North and the NFC North, and also New York Jets and at Kansas City.
QB Vince Young starts his third year with a slew of unknown receivers (not counting Alge Crumpler, who came via free agency from Atlanta), but Coach Jeff Fisher and new O Coordinator Mike Heimerdinger hope to come up with a couple good ones so Young doesn't have to run all the time. Or throw so many INT's - 19 last year, with just 9 TD's. At RB, they have big LenDale White starting his 3rd year (1,110 yards on 303 carries last year) and they drafted very speedy Chris Johnson from East Carolina in the first round to complement the big guy. The O line is very good.
The D is very good - 5th in the league last year. DL's Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth both made thePro Bowl last year, and the Titans welcome back Jevon Kearse, after he spent a few years in Philly.
Titans ended their season last year with a first round playoff loss at San Diego, 17-6.