2023 NFL Season Preview: AFC South Edition

This might be the worst division in football, let’s just dive right in.

Jacksonville Jaguars

1st: This was probably the easiest division winner for me to pick this year. The Jags are head and shoulders above the rest of the teams in this division. I’m not even that interested in how they “compete” in the division because I’m not anticipating a competition. I’m focused on what seed they can get and how they compare to some of the contenders in the AFC. A big reason why I think they’ll be strong contenders in the AFC is, as Nick Wright would put it, “The Prince That Was Promised”, Trevor Lawrence. Lawrence is a generational talent who had a turbulent rookie season due to the mess he walked into by getting Urban Meyer as his head coach. I look at last season as his rookie year with Doug Pederson as his head coach when the Jags got an adult in the room. Lawrence showed drastic improvement with Pederson as the season went along. Pederson did a great job of getting good production from Lawrence and his highly questioned receiving core. Lawrence had the fourth highest amount of open windows to throw to in the league last season. With the addition of Calvin Ridley to this offense, I expect Lawrence to take another leap and be in contention for league MVP. As for the other side of the ball, I think they’ll have a middle-of-the-pack defense. A player that I will be looking forward to seeing how they develop is Travon Walker. The former number one overall pick in the draft is immensely talented, but needs to put it all together. If he can become the player they hope he does, then Walker and Josh Allen will be a nightmare for offenses. 

Tennessee Titans

2nd: As long as Mike Vrabel is the head coach of the Titans, they’ll be no pushovers and will be a team that will try to turn things into a dog fight. They are the embodiment of a team taking on the personality of their head coach. Even with that in mind, I don’t think that will be enough for them to compete for the division. It has been an off-season full of change for the Titans. Changes in the front office, coaching staff and roster. The most glaring example of that roster wise is with the offensive line. They will have four new starters with none of them being a sure thing. If they can hold up, then we will likely see Derrick Henry continue to be a beast and the offense look better with the addition of DeAndre Hopkins. I expect their toughness as a team to be on display on the defensive side of the ball like it has been the last few seasons. Last year, they were the NFL’s best run defense. The main problem with their defense is their secondary, and it will cost them throughout the season. 

Indianapolis Colts

3rd: Colts fans should be going into the season optimistic. They have a new young quarterback that is extremely talented and a new head coach that has an offensive background to help him develop. Unfortunately for them, due to their wacky owner Jim Irsay, they head into the season with a cloud hovering over them. That being the Jonathan Taylor contract dispute between himself and the organization. This is so unnecessary from the Colts considering they have a quarterback in Anthony Richardson that is raw and could use a great running back like Taylor to help him develop. Another thing that makes their stance of being reluctant to pay Taylor what he wants ridiculous is that Richardson is on a rookie contract. This is probably the best time to give Taylor that contract since you don’t have a quarterback taking up a large chunk of the salary cap. Apart from that fiasco, I don’t think the rest of the roster is that talented and they will mostly struggle. On a positive note, I think that we will see flashes that Richardson can be a good quarterback under new head coach Shane Steichen. Steichen was crucial to the development of Jalen Hurts. Hurts also came into the league with his strengths being primarily as a runner and I can see him doing similar things for Richardson. 

Houston Texans

4th: Apart from obviously trying to win games, the most important thing for new head coach DeMeco Ryans is to improve the culture. The Texans have been a rotten organization in a plethora of ways the past few years. I believe that Ryans will change the culture and I think he can mold them into taking on his personality. I just think it will take time and patience. The fact is that the roster isn’t very good. On the defensive side of the ball, where Ryans specializes in, he has his work cut out for him. The Texans had the NFL’s worst run defense last season. It will be interesting to see how and if Ryans can improve some of the players like he did with the 49ers. He will at least have two really exciting defensive players that can potentially be stars for him in Will Anderson Jr. and Derek Stingley Jr. Another major talking point for the Texans will be the guy they hope will be their franchise quarterback, CJ Stroud. The Texans don’t have the offensive skill players that you would want surrounding a young quarterback that you hope develops apart from Damien Pierce. A good thing they did is spend a lot of money on the offensive line. They will hope to see some positives from Stroud to build on for the future.

I don’t look forward to watching these teams this season.        

Header Photo: In a division with very poor quarterback play, this man stands head and shoulders above the rest. Trevor Lawrence has big things ahead of him this year. (Michael Ainsworth/The Associated Press)

Write to Mohamed Warsame at

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