Heller: AFC South Answers to my Preseason Series “3 Burning Questions”

With the regular season over, here are the answers to my three burning questions from before the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Will Nick Foles succeed in Duval County? Foles went down in Week 1 with a broken clavicle and Minshew Magic was born. Rookie quarterback Gardner Minshew had a magical run in Foles’ absence. The magic fizzled out and Foles came back, only to get benched in favor of Minshew, who provided another spark to end the season. 

Will the powerhouse of a defense stand tall? With the exception of a nine-sack performance against Tennessee and their embattled offensive line, the defense was anything but the stout one of recent seasons. 

Will Leonard Fournette return to his former self? Fournette again battled injuries. When he was healthy, he was very effective, but that was rare.

Houston Texans 

Can J.J. Watt stay on the field and be his ferocious self? When he was on the field, he was ferocious. After going on injured reserve in October with a torn pectoral muscle, the defense definitely missed his leadership more than his on-field presence. 

Will Deshaun Watson take that next step? While he did lead his team to the playoffs, Watson was slightly less effective than last season. 

Is DeAndre Hopkins still the best receiver in football? The answer is that Hopkins is the second-best. There’s a guy in New Orleans who is the best in football. Hopkins definitely had a solid season himself, though.

Indianapolis Colts 

What’s next without Andrew Luck? To begin the season, the Colts seemed to not be affected at all. But as the season wore on, Jacoby Brissett seemed to become less and less effective.

Will Eric Ebron be the touchdown machine he was all last season? He did have flashes, but teammate Jack Doyle superseded Ebron as one of Brissett’s go-to guys before Ebron suffered a season-ending injury that will end his stint in Indy. 

Can T.Y. Hilton keep it up? When he was on the field, he was a solid weapon. But another injury-plagued season derailed his success.

Tennessee Titans

Which Derrick Henry will we get? All-Pro selection, Pro Bowl selection, and NFL rushing title. It’s safe to say the one we saw this year was the same one we saw in the second half of last season. They need to give this man his money now and not wait until free agency.

Can the defense be a top-five unit? Jurrell Casey and Kevin Byard were solid, as usual, as were second-year linebackers Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans. And the secondary held up through battles with the top receivers in the league, all of whom just happened to be on their schedule. 

Will Marcus Mariota start at least 13 games? He didn’t make it through half of that. Ryan Tannehill replaced Mariota halfway through the Week 6 game against the Broncos and led this team to a 7-3 record, claiming the last AFC playoff spot along the way. 

While I thought this division was the one division that could be anybody’s to win, especially without Andrew Luck in it, the Texans and the Titans earned the playoff spots.

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