Titans ride hot streak into 2020, take South title

Ryan Sharp (@RealRyanSharp)

September 10, 2020

Tennessee Titans

2019 Record: 9-7, 2nd AFC South

2019 Playoffs: AFC 6 Seed — Lost to Chiefs in AFC Championship

2020 Projected Record: 11-5, 1st AFC South

2020 Playoff Projection: AFC 4 Seed

If Tennessee’s 2019 playoff run provided any hint of what its future holds, then things are looking good.

Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry were both rewarded with sizable contract extensions in the offseason, so the Titans have committed to them for the foreseeable future.

Tannehill’s time in Miami had people thinking he was mediocre at best, but the Titans coaching staff has been able to utilize his abilities and run a competent offense unlike Joe Philbin or Adam Gase. He’ll likely never be elite, but he has proven himself as a reliable franchise quarterback.

On defense, Titans added former first overall pick Jadaveon Clowney just days before the season started, adding a huge pass-rushing threat.

I definitely leaned toward  the ceiling when slotting 11 wins for the Titans in 2020, but weak division should allow them to cruise back to the playoffs.

Indianapolis Colts

2019 Record: 7-9, 3rd AFC South

2019 Playoffs: None

2020 Projected Record: 9-7, 2nd AFC South

2020 Playoff Projection: None

Andrew Luck’s sudden retirement just days before the season started shook the entire league, and pretty much killed any chance the Colts had at a successful year.

They got off to a strong start with Jacoby Brissett, but he ultimately proved that he was not a starting quarterback, especially toward the end of the season.

Indianapolis lost too many games they should have won based on the matchup, including four straight to end the year, with two of those coming against the basement-dwelling Panthers and Jaguars.

You also can’t ignore the home loss to the (then) 1-7 Dolphins in Week 10. Even with Brian Hoyer playing quarterback in that game, it’s still not good.

The Colts signed veteran Philip Rivers to a one-year deal in Free Agency, with Brissett sticking around to be the backup.

This — along with trading a first round pick for shows that the Colts believe they have all the pieces to contend in 2020.

Whether or not that materializes fully depends on what Rivers has left in him.

Houston Texans

2019 Record: 10-6, 1st AFC South

2019 Playoffs: AFC 3 Seed — Lost to Chiefs in Divisional Round

2020 Projected Record: 5-11, 3rd AFC South

2020 Playoff Projection: None

Bill O’Brien decided he wanted to do some more losing after the Texans blew a 24-point lead against the Chiefs in the Playoffs.

It didn’t seem possible, but he made it happen by shipping top-three receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for a second round pick and David Johnson, who has shown limited production since 2017 and has one of the most expensive running back contracts in the league.

Pair that with the fact that Houston didn’t have a first round pick in the draft, and doesn’t have one in 2021 either.

Those picks helped acquire Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins, but he alone was not enough to prevent Deshaun Watson from getting sacked 44 times last year.

Watson is probably at the top of my list of quarterbacks I feel bad for. He’s shown signs of being elite and was rewarded for it by his coach dumping his best supporting piece.

At least the Texans were smart enough to give him a well-earned contract extension.

Watson is good, maybe even great, but not great enough to carry a team with as many holes as the Texans, which is why I expect him to be the lone bright spot in Houston this season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

2019 Record: 6-10, 4th AFC South

2019 Playoffs: None

2020 Projected Record: 1-15, 4th AFC South

2020 Playoff Projection: None

The Jaguars have clearly decided to take the same approach the Dolphins did last year and move on from this season before it even begins.

They really started it last year, when they sent Jalen Ramsey to the Rams for two firsts.

The key offseason departure was Yannick Ngakoue, who was traded to the Vikings for a second-round pick in 2021.

The absence of Ramsey and Ngakoue will certainly help Jacksonville achieve its goal of being as bad as possible in 2020, with the hopes of landing a franchise quarterback in the draft.

MinshewMania lasted all of three weeks, and now it’ll be on him to take the blows while the front office watches on with the hopes of finding his replacement.

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