Three Burning Questions: AFC South

With the regular season approaching, these are the biggest question marks for the teams in the AFC South.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Will Nick Foles succeed in Duval County? I don’t know if he was just the beneficiary of the Philadelphia Eagles’ play-calling or if he is just that good of a quarterback. While he is a major upgrade from Blake Bortles, I don’t believe he is among the best around the NFL at his position. But at the same time, there are five or six teams that would probably rather have him starting instead of who they currently have.

Will the powerhouse of a defense stand tall? Or will they get still armed and run all over by the rest of this division, which was the case last year? This side of the ball has the potential to be top three in the NFL. Names like Myles Jack, Jalen Ramsey, and Calais Campbell can put a sense of fear in offensive linemen and wide receivers alike.

Will Leonard Fournette return to his former self? The right hamstring injury that caused him to miss six games last year is hopefully fully healed. He needs to be productive to take some of the heat off of Foles. This team isn’t built to be all that pass-heavy.

Houston Texans

Can J.J. Watt stay on the field and be his ferocious self? When healthy, he is a nightmare for opposing offensive linemen. With the uncertainty of Jadeveon Clowney rejoining his teammates, Watt being 100% is that much more important.

Will Deshaun Watson take that next step? After lighting up not just the division but the whole league year one, his sophomore season wasn’t as successful. If he relies on his arm more than his legs, this team will be okay.

Is DeAndre Hopkins still the best receiver in football? Age and the grind eventually catch up with everyone. There weren’t many balls thrown his way last season that he didn’t catch. The return of Will Fuller V will help to eliminate many of the double teams he would normally see. As a fan of another team in this division, I hate that we have to face him twice.

Indianapolis Colts

What’s next without Andrew Luck? Luck announced his retirement two weeks before the start of the season. Jacoby Brissett is the guy unless they make a move. This team will suffer, as it was built to succeed with No. 12 under center. No matter what, they will suffer without him.

Will Eric Ebron be the touchdown machine he was all last season? Defenses will definitely pay more attention to the Colts’ tight end than they did last year. But given his size, strength and catching ability, Ebron, while he won’t flirt with double-digit touchdowns touchdown, will still have success.

Can T.Y. Hilton keep it up? The always reliable — and at times dangerous — Colts receiver, like Hopkins, is another year older. But while he may have lost a step or two, he is still a gameplan nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.

Tennessee Titans

Which Derrick Henry will we get? Hopefully not the one from the first half of last season who couldn’t seem to get going. If we get the guy from the second half of the season (after a kick in the butt from former Titan Eddie George), he was virtually unstoppable. If the latter is the case, this team will definitely have success.

Can the defense be a top five defense? This defense has the names. Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard, and the newest Titan, veteran Cameron Wake. But last season — more often than not — this defense gave up too many big plays. With the likes of Hilton and Hopkins in this division, as well as Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Thomas, and Antonio Brown  on their schedule, head coach Mike Vrabel’s team can’t be successful giving up too many big plays.

Will Marcus Mariota start at least 13 games? The answer to this one may be just as important to this team as the first one. The return of Mariota’s security blanket, tight end Delanie Walker, should help. If the coaches let Marcus be Marcus, No. 8 and the Titan, will have a great year.

This division is the one division that could be anybody’s to win. Now without Andrew Luck, it’s even more so. All four teams are evenly built, at least at first glance, which should make for some great division games, especially those in December.

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