Jaguars hold of AFC South still strong despite DeAndre Hopkins joining the Titans

The addition of the wide receiver to the Tennessee Titans' wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins shouldn't faze the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates after a catch against the Seattle Seahawks.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (10) celebrates after a catch against the Seattle Seahawks. / Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY

Not long after the Jacksonville Jaguars signed star tight end Evan Engram to a three-year deal worth $42.5 million, news broke that the division rival Tennessee Titans inked wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. And while there's no doubt DHop will give the Titans' passing game a boost, they're still lagging behind the Jags in the race for the AFC South title next season.

Hopkins got a two-year, $26 million contract from Tennessee, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Media. While the Titans haven't officially announced the move, it may be only a matter of time before they do. A first-round pick by the Houston Texans in 2013, Hopkins gives Tennessee a No. 1 receiver, something they lacked last year.

Even though Hopkins hasn't had a 1,000-receiver in a while, there are many reasons to think he could have a productive campaign for the Titans in 2023. After several fruitful years in Houston, Hopkins was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in 2020. During his stint in the desert, the star wide receiver dealt with injuries and a suspension for violations to the performance-enhancing drug policy. To make matters worse, the organization was in a state of turmoil, which make it difficult for their players to perform to the best of their capability.

Now in Tennessee, Hopkins will draw coverage away from fellow receiver Treylon Burks and make it difficult for teams to stack up the box, which should take some pressure off running back Derrick Henry, the heart and soul of the Titans' offense.

The Titans still have a long way to go to catch up with the Jaguars

Hopkins immediately makes the Titans better but is that enough to propel them to the driver's seat in the AFC South race? Probably not. This isn't about Hopkins' potential impact but rather the general state of Tennessee. For starters, their offensive line will have as many as three new starters. Also, Derrick Henry could suffer a decline at any time after being the focal point of the offense the past few seasons.

On top of that, Tennessee has run a ground-and-pound kind of offense in recent years, and it's hard to see them deviate from that approach in 2023. Will they throw more often? You bet but that doesn't make them the second coming of the Greatest Show on Turf. If anything, it will be harder for the Jags and any other clubs the Titans will face to defend them but Hopkins' arrival doesn't move the needle considerably.

Even after signing Hopkins, Tennessee's odds of winning the Super Bowl are still among the worst in the league at 8,000. Meanwhile, the Jaguars have a well-rounded offense, you could even argue it's one of the three best in the league. With Trevor Lawrence leading the way, Jacksonville is poised to put up points in the scoreboard at will, so it's hard to see Tennessee getting ahead of them in the arms race for the division.

The Titans and general manager Ran Carthon deserve credit for not resting on their laurels and looking for ways to get better. Having said that, the Jaguars are still the better team and the one to beat in the division.

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