If the Jacksonville Jaguars can field a competent team for the first time in several years, the AFC South could the most intriguing division in the NFL.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have been awful over the last 5 or so seasons, a fact that is made all the more frustrating because of the division they play in. If the Jaguars were remotely competent at any point over the last half-decade, they likely could have won a notoriously weak AFC South.
Things will be much tougher this year, as the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts all look much improved.
In a recent piece for a NFL.com, Conor Orr of Around the NFL put out a ranking of all the divisions based on competitiveness. Justifiably, he had the AFC West at number 1, but he surprisingly had the AFC South at number 2.
"2) AFC SOUTHPotential playoff teams: 4Potential 10-win teams: 3Division will be decided in: The final week of the NFL season.The AFC South earns second place here because, while the division has four teams that could make the playoffs, it’s a quartet defined by a sort of middling quality that brings the whole operation back to earth. Unlike in the AFC West, I don’t see a legitimate Super Bowl contender in this division, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be thrilling to follow. The division has budding stars — Marcus Mariota, Jalen Ramsey, Jadeveon Clowney — alongside a bedrock of accomplished stars like Andrew Luck and J.J. Watt. A few rookies, like Leonard Fournette and Deshaun Watson, have the capability to change the power structure for the long term. The Texans and Colts end the season facing off against one another, while the Jaguars and Titans also have a campaign-ending date. How good are the odds that one of these games decides the division?"
Orr is straightforward in saying that there likely isn’t a team that will go far in the playoffs in the AFC South, but you can legitimately see a path where all 4 teams could be in the thick of the division race in week 17.
Right now, I would still handicap the Jaguars as the least likely to win the division because they have the biggest question mark at quarterback. That could change if Blake Bortles looks decent in the first few weeks and the Texans fail to properly prepare Deshaun Watson, but we’ve still seen the Texans win the division in spit of terrible quarterback play.
The Jaguars have their work cut out for them, but it would still be a massive disappointment if they weren’t withing striking distance of the division title at the end of the year.
How do you feel about the AFC South heading into 2017?