The South could be an entertaining division, even if it is not a great division (which it surely is not). Can Houston continue their dominance in the AFC South? Was Indy’s playoff run of 2012 a fluke? Can the Titans step out of mediocrity? Can the Blaine Gabbert resemble an NFL QB?
Jan 13, 2013; Foxboro, MA, USA; Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) stiffarms New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (37) in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Texans 41-28. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports
2012 Record: 12-4; 1st Place
2013 Prediction: 11-5
Confidence in Pick: 30%
Losses: Connor Barwin, Glover Quinn, James Casey, Shayne Graham
Pickups: Ed Reed, Greg Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, DJ Swearinger, Greg Toler, Erik Walden, LaRon Landry
Reasons for Optimism:
Arian Foster – With 1,424 yards and 15 TDs, Foster is one of the few bell cow RBs in today’s NFL and he allows Houston to control the game and keep the defense rested. As long as he is healthy, he can carry this team.
Defense – Even with the losses of Connor Barwin and Glover Quinn, this Texans defense should be better in 2013 than it was in 2012 – and that is a scary thought when you figure they were 7th overall and 9th in ppg in 2012. In 2013, the Texans picked up arguably the best FS (Ed Reed) and get arguably the best LB back from injury (Brian Cushing). Assuming both are healthy (it could be a big assumption) this is a top 5 defense again. The Texans possess the most dominant DE (Watt), the best FS in recent memory (Reed) and one of/if not the best MLB (Cushing). Oh, and they also have a very good CB in Jonathan Joseph. The 11 guys on defense and Arian Foster alone should be able to finish 1st in this division by themselves.
Matt Schaub – Schaub is an average QB, but with Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels, Arian Foster, and this defense, an average QB is more than enough to win lots of games and make a playoff run.
Receiving Corps – At 31 years old, Johnson is not the player he once was…but he still had 112 catches for 1,598 yards last year! One thing Johnson has never had is a true #2. The Texans believe they have found that #2 in DeAndre Hopkins , the 1st round rookie from Clemson. Johnson and Hopkins, combined with Owen Daniels and Arian Foster, make up a potent offense that is difficult to stop.