Photo Credit: samdarley.sportsblog.com
The Texans are one of the league’s most improved teams on the offensive side of the ball. They added one of the top running backs in the NFL in Lamar Miller, who has been a star for the Miami Dolphins over the past 2 seasons, and they upgraded from Brian Hoyer at the quarterback position to Brock Osweiler, who did very well filling in for quarterback Peyton Manning with the Denver Broncos last season. They also drafted Will Fuller, who is already one of the fastest wide receivers in the NFL, to complement wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who had a breakout season last season. The Texans also have one of the league’s top defenses, led by star defensive end JJ Watt, and they should have the 1st overall pick from the 2014 NFL draft, linebacker Jadeveon Clowney, back for a full season of competition after being injured multiple times over the past 2 seasons. All of these improvements could move the Texans from just simply being a playoff team last season to becoming a team contending for a Super Bowl title this season.
The Colts were supposed to do very well and perhaps even win the Super Bowl last season after making it to the AFC championship game in the 2014 season. Unfortunately for them and for their fans, quarterback Andrew Luck got hurt and they were unable to even make the postseason. Even in the games he did play, Luck struggled mightily last season to find his rhythm in the passing game. However, he has had one of the best statistical starts to an NFL career that a quarterback has ever had over his first 4 seasons of play, and he just signed a contract to make him the highest paid player in NFL history. With an improved offensive line, especially with the Colts’ 1st round selection of center Ryan Kelly, and an aging but consistent running back in Frank Gore to take away a defense’s attention from the receivers, Luck should return to his 2014 form this season and allow wide receivers TY Hilton and Donte Moncrief to have great seasons statistically, and that alone could be enough to lead the Colts to Houston to win Super Bowl LI.
The Jaguars’ only rough spot last season was their defense. On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Blake Bortles had a breakout season, as did his top 2 wide receivers, Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. Running back TJ Yeldon also established himself as a go-to running back in the 12 games he played. The Jaguars signed running back Chris Ivory, who did very well last year as the New York Jets’ running back, in free agency to improve their running game and create one of the best 1-2 running back punches in the NFL. Now, back to the Jaguars’ defense. The Jaguars signed defensive tackle Malik Jackson in free agency, and they drafted perhaps the best 2 defensive players in this year’s draft in cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack. Also, defensive end Dante Fowler, who was the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, should be ready to go this season after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. With one of the league’s most improved defenses and an offense that is already on the road to being one of the NFL’s best, the Jaguars will have a good chance at making a run at their first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
Last season started out looking very promising for the Titans, as quarterback Marcus Mariota showed us that his college stardom could indeed translate to the NFL, even as a running quarterback. He played really well all season before getting injured towards the end of the season. The Titans added 2014 rushing yards leader DeMarco Murray this offseason and drafted 2016 Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry to create a solid rushing attack to help free up Mariota, whether he runs or throws, and they already have a deep group of young wide receivers such as Kendall Wright, Dorial Green-Beckham, and Rishard Matthews, as well as on of the NFL’s top tight ends in Delanie Walker to assist Mariota in the passing game. The TItans’ defense is subpar, but with lots of young talent on offense, the sky is the limit for the Titans, and if all of their young players break out this upcoming season, they could be headed towards a Super Bowl victory.
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