Earlier, I took a look at the AFC North, and made some baseless predictions on how it would shake out. Now, I'm going to wildly speculate on the possibilities in the surprisingly deep and competitive AFC South.
Indy faces a surprisingly tough schedule for a second place team, but it's almost automatic to give them 12 wins. They'll face some real tests within their division, but I really believe in this team. Despite all the off-season shake-ups, Peyton Manning is a true leader who elevates the team around them. That defense will betray him in a couple of big games, though, notably in week 10 against New England.
Tennessee is a very talented team that I see being unable to overcome their few, though glaring, deficiencies. The quarterback situation there has to make you nervous, unless Vince Young returns to rookie form. Kerry Collins is not a championship caliber quarterback. And their receiving core, while it has a lot of potential, could wind up limiting their offensive production this year. As usual, the defense will keep this team in games, and pull out some hard-fought wins against some very good teams.
While I'm not ready to jump on the "Houston is going to the playoffs!" bandwagon just yet, I am ready to believe this team is built for its first ever winning season. However, Matt Schaub is going to miss games, which means Rex (Wrecks) Grossman will be their starting QB at some point in the year. That's bad news. Nonetheless, this is an offense with the talent to explode against anyone, and the defense should be much improved. This franchise is on its way up, and could be a playoff team in a more forgiving division.
I like Jacksonville, I really do. But looking at their schedule, I just can't pick out more than 5-7 wins for them. The defense has lost its bite in the last few years, and aside from Maurice Jones-Drew, the offense just doesn't wow me. That being said, this is a team that's one really good draft class and a developmental year away from being more than relevant, but a top-tier team.
I imagine there are dissenting opinions. I'm prepared to eat my share of crow at season's end.