Colts Have No Trouble Repeating .. As Division Winner
Indianapolis Colts (13-3)
Indy should have no trouble claiming the division, though division opponents have give the Colts tough competition the last couple years. The Colts are somewhat depleted through free agency, the retirement of offensive tackle Tarik Glenn and the season-ending injury to defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, but the half-dozen critical pieces remain in place.
Among questions Indy seeks to answer are whether second-year running back Joseph Addai can carry the load of a No. 1 back (or whether they'll just keep passing and passing), whether the defense can keep the Colts in games against top-tier teams, and whether the offensive line will ever be called for holding.
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Jacksonville Jaguars (11-5)
The release of Byron Leftwich surprised a lot of people, but it was a long time coming. The timing of the move is very questionable, but Leftwich and head coach Jack Del Rio didn't see eye to eye, and it was just a matter of time. David Garrard is capable of leading Jacksonville to the playoffs, but he is susceptible to injury, and the Jaguars can hardly afford that. Really, Jacksonville has suffered enough injuries, leading them to 8-8 last year.
But the Jags lack offensive weapons, except the running back duo of Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew and newcomer wide receiver Dennis Northcut. On the other side, Jacksonville's defense is one of the league's best. They were No. 2 in yards allowed last year, and that was with a spate of injuries.
There's no reason Jacksonville should miss the playoffs, as long as Garrard stays healthy and doesn't blow it.
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Tennessee Titans (7-9)
Vince Young is set up perfectly for a sophomore slump. He came on strong last season, taking a few teams by surprise, but that string ran out in the last-gasp playoff run. Now teams will have film and be better prepared. Young also has little to work with. Only Eric Moulds has extensive experience. The loss of Travis Henry leaves three unknown quantities in the backfield. The good news for Young is the offensive line is better than average. But the offensive line can't help Young improve his completion percentage.
The defense finished 27th against the pass last year and last overall. The secondary is weak; rookie Michael Griffin could start at cornerback. The defensive line is average and has no depth.
The Titans are an undisciplined team. It would have been better that they lost a few more games last season and cut ties with head coach Jeff Fisher. And the sooner the Titans forget Adam Jones, the better off they'll be.
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Houston Texans (2-14)
Quarterback Matt Schaub showed a lot of potential in Atlanta. But Atlanta had a couple receivers, an excellent tight end, a running game and an offensive line. Houston doesn't.
The defense might be starting to come around, despite Mario Williams playing more like Ken Simms. But as much as the defense improves, if they're on the field for 40 minutes a game, they're not going to keep opposing offenses out of the end zone.
A pretty tough schedule means another pretty high draft pick.
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