The new NFL season is almost upon us, and that means we’re going to see another exciting season of football in the AFC South. The Houston Texans, the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Tennessee Titans all compete for a space in the playoffs and, if all goes to plan, the Super Bowl itself.
If that seems far-fetched, perhaps it should. The AFC South doesn’t appear to be a top division this year, but the stakes still run high.
This article will look at:
- who we think will win this season’s AFC South title
- what things will be crucial to their success if this production is to come true
- some critical considerations for supporters wanting to follow all the action down south
If you want to see the team predictions we have for our eventual winners, keep reading and let us know what you think about the AFC South.
The Tennessee Titans Will Bounce Back
Formerly known as the Houston Oilers prior to their franchise relocation in 1997, the Tennessee Titans have been in their current form since 1999, since building a strong identity and a level of support that many teams can only dream of. Playing in Super Bowl XXIV so soon after the move to Tennessee was a fantastic achievement.
Sometimes, a big change is needed to reinvigorate a team that’s on a highway to mediocrity, and for the Tennessee Titans, the move from Houston appeared to be just that, setting them on a path that would put them within touching distance of the Lombardi trophy on numerous occasions.
While their time in the AFC South hasn’t been all rosy, and there have been real periods of lows and highs, both lasting for prolonged spells, for the most part, the move to Tennessee has been a free for good. The Tennessee Titans have topped the AFC South and made the playoffs numerous times, and while they haven’t yet won the title, many feel that it’s only a matter of time, along with a good share of luck, until it happens. That being said, the AFC South is tougher to call from a predictive point of view, and winning is never guaranteed.
Expectations Ran High for Titans Fans
After having such a strong 2021 season, replicating that was going to be a difficult task. After six-straight winning seasons heading into the start of 2022, fans were being set up for disappointment. Following a year where they were the number one seed and having beaten the creme de la creme in the Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, and eventual Super Bowl winners LA Rams, the stark contrast in 2022 was in plain sight.
They looked as though they had regressed on the field and, at the very least, failed to build while others around them continued to strengthen. With expectations now lower than they were 12 months ago, this could be the perfect time for head coach Mike Vrabel to get the team running again in an attempt to win the AFC South.
3 Important Additions Not to be Underestimated
There’s been a lot of buzz about who the Tennessee Titans were going to bring in to help them bounce back, and while there’s been a lot of movement, we think there have been a few quality additions that should help them improve on their 2022 season with a bounce-back 2023 Titans season.
DeAndre Hopkins is a Game-Changer
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DeAndre Hopkins is probably the standout signing for the Tennessee Titans this summer, signing a two-year deal that’s worth a reported $26 million overall, so expectations will be high for him to perform at his best. If he’s able to put his relatively disappointing three-year spell at the Arizona Cardinals behind him and rediscover the form he showed at the Houston Texans, he should be good to go.
Offensive Line Help
Alongside DeAndre Hopkins, the Tennessee Titans also used their first-round draft pick to bring in Peter Skoronski from Northwestern College, where he was named a unanimous All-American in 2022, despite still being a junior at the time. This put him on the radar for all the top teams looking for a guard who is a cut above the rest, and it looks like he could hit the ground running.
Harold Landry Ready to Go
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We all know how important Harold Landry is to this group. While he’s not really a change, he is in the fact that he was an incredibly important part that was not available last season. Perhaps 2-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons summed it best:
“Guys like Harold, those tackles [are] afraid of his speed. They never know what might happen. He can go to [a] power [move] or whatever it may be.”
Getting him back from the horrific torn ACL in 2022 is going to be monumental for this defense. Welcome back, Mr. Landry.
Titans Preseason an Indicator of Progress?
While it might be tempting to use preseason results as a way to make predictions for the upcoming season, and you’d be valid for doing that, these games lack a competitive edge. Whether they are a true insight into the ability or focus level of the players is open to debate, as different coaches have varying ideas for how to manage personnel. As nice as a 2-1 record is, including an 8-point win on the road to a decent Vikings team, it’s just preseason.
It can also be the case that many of the new additions may not yet be up to speed with how their head coach wants to play. For Mike Vrabel and his new recruits at the Tennessee Titans, it’ll take time for experienced receiver DeAndre Hopkins and first-round draft pick Peter Skoronski to settle into the team and gel with their new teammates. Look for Landry, however, to FLY out of the gates. People often overlook how difficult it can be for players to settle into a new environment and understand their teammates, ranging from running patterns to well-rehearsed plays.
We believe that the Tennessee Titans will be the team to beat in the upcoming AFC South. Not only do they have lower expectations than last year, which will suit head coach Mike Vrabel down to a tee, but they have also recruited smartly, adding serious depth in both the receiver and guard positions, making clever signings in the form of DeAndre Hopkins and rookie Peter Skoronski.