The Colts are still the class of the AFC. Peyton Manning will be even more motivated, meticulous, and type A after getting to the Super Bowl and failing to win. Injuries really plagued the Colts last season but it’s a testament to the coaching staff and unity of the team that they were still capable of contending for the Vince Lombardi trophy. The Colts defense is probably the fastest in the league, they fly around the ball and make execution extremely difficult for the opposing offense. However, without Bob Sanders and with a hobbled Dwight Freeney they become overmatched at critical positions. Freeney should be healthy and ready to go, the only question mark is Sanders. I love him as a player, he doesn’t hesitate on the football field at all and throws his body around violently. Though I think it’s time he start picking and choosing his spots a little more cautiously if he expects to stay on the field for the duration of the season. Peyton will also have Anthony Gonzalez back which provides yet another solid pair of hands to go along with Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, and Dallas Clark. With all of their weapons back and healthy, Joseph Addai should be able to find a few more running lanes and perhaps become a 1,000 yard rusher again. If that happens, Indianapolis will get a chance to avenge last years Super Bowl loss. (13-3)
Waiver Ware Sleeper: Donald Brown. If Joseph Addai can stay healthy Brown’s contribution will be minimal again. But I actually like Brown’s style of running better than that of Addai. He runs harder and hits the hole much quicker than Addai. I hope the Colts use a more balanced rushing attack because I believe Donald Brown is ready to make a case for starting the game behind Peyton Manning rather than on the bench.
The Houston Texans are poised to take a massive step forward this season. Matt Schaub was quietly a top 5 quarterback last season, this season I think he’ll be the same but much less quietly. Houston has the pieces to be an explosive 30 point per game offense this year. Andre’ Johnson is an unstoppable weapon, everybody knows this, but Kevin Walter is a serviceable number 2 that can get open on 3rd downs and Jacoby Jones is a deep threat that demands the attention of a safety at all times. Arian Foster is the perfect back to fit their system. He’s a tough hard nosed runner that doesn’t leave many yards on the field. He’s secure with the football and quick enough to keep linebackers honest. With Owen Daniels returning the Texans have as solid of an offensive group as there is in the league. Their defense is young but growing into a force to be reckoned with. If they can keep Brian Cushing from over training agai-………………………riiiight. Let’s just hope that when Cushing gets back he’s just as good as he was last year without whatever he was taking that was causing him to ‘overtrain’. Mario Williams is a stud and proves more and more each year that the Texans made the right choice between him and Reggie Bush. The Texans will be a solid enough team all year to force Indianapolis to play their starters well into December. I like this Houston team a lot and I think they’re built solidly enough to become perennial playoff contenders starting this year. (11-5)
Player To Watch: Arian Foster. After rotating running backs like Kim Kardashian rotates boyfriends the Texans have seemingly found one worth sticking with. Foster is a solid runner with good burst and is capable of averaging over 4 yards per carry in this system.
Waiver Wire Sleeper: Jacoby Jones. He may not be a sleeper due to his performance in preseason but for now he’s still the 3rd WR on the Texans depth chart. He’ll still get his chances and when he does he will capitalize. He’s a speedy guy who lines up next to the best WR in the league, all it takes is one slight step from a safety and Jones can burn them. He’s also a threat and punt returns which makes the Texan D/ST a bit of a sleeper as well.
Vince Young will get his second chance to be the unquestioned starter and this time I think he’s up to the task. Awkward mechanics and all, when Young is confident he finds ways to win. Chris Johnson will help alleviate some of the pressure from Vince Young’s shoulders though I don’t think he’ll get anywhere near his 2,500 yard rushing goal. Nate Washington certainly needs to step up so teams pay the price for stacking the box to try and contain Johnson. if not, I’m afraid Johnson will be headed for a frustrating and injury plagued season. I still think the Titans will find it hard to rack up wins in a division this top heavy. Last season they went 1-3 against Houston and Indianapolis and I don’t expect this year for that to improve. (9-7)
Waiver Wire Sleeper: Kenny Britt. If Nate Washington struggles early the Titans could replace him with the talented Britt. He’s a bigger receiver and does a better job at fighting for the ball. Britt averaged over 4.5 more yards per catch than Washington with only 5 less catches. The Titans would be wise to put guys on the field that can stretch a defense and I expect them to make that move sooner rather than later.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are one of the few teams that managed to do absolutely nothing to improve on their sub .500 record from last year. The Jaguars continuously rely on their 5’7 210lb bowling ball of a running back Maurice Jones-Drew but without getting him any help that plan is liable to backfire. A lot of people expect Mike Sims-Walker to grow into a top WR but without another quality receiving option next to him I’m not one of those people. I feel Sims-Walker will be headed for another mediocre year unless Jacksonville makes a last second play for Vincent Jackson. Maurice Jones-Drew can’t do it all, he had a tremendous year last year and the Jaguars still only won 7 games. Tis year won’t be much different, possibly worse since every other team in their division has improved either through health or addition. (6-10)