I’ve already covered the NFC West, NFC South and AFC West. Today, it’s the AFC South. And there is a lot of uncertainty in this division right now. When will Peyton play? How serious is Arian Foster’s injury? Will Chris Johnson’s holdout affect his production? Can Maurice Jones-Drew stay healthy after ranking third in the NFL with 365 touches last season?
With the the recent news of David Garrard being released by the Jaguars, it’s clear that they are rebuilding this year and think Gabbert is their guy for the future. With the Titans also grooming a rookie quarterback, it’s a two team race between the Texans and Colts. And really, it all comes down to one player on the Indianapolis Colts. If Peyton Manning plays, the Colts will always be in the running for a playoff spot. If he doesn’t… well, we actually don’t know because Manning has started every game for the Colts for the past 13 years. Although, it’s safe to assume that Kerry Collins will be a huge downgrade from Manning. Even if Manning were to start the whole season, the Colts are getting older.
At one point, the Colts were fantastic at getting good talent in the first round, including Manning, Edgerrin James, Reggie Wayne, Dwight Freeney and Dallas Clark. However, since they took Clark in the first round of the 2003 draft, they have struggled to find any talent in the early part of the draft. In 2004, lacking a first round pick, the Colts took safety Bob Sanders in the second round. He’s no longer with the team. In 2005, they took two cornerbacks in the first two rounds, Marlin Jackson in the first and Kelvin Hayden in the second. Neither are still with the team. In 2006, the Colts took running back Joseph Addai in the first round and cornerback Tim Jennings in the second. Jennings is no longer with the team and Addai has not rushed for more than 1,000 yards since 2007 and has struggled to stay healthy.
Even after the failures, their drafting didn’t improve and in the 2007 draft, the Colts took receiver Anthony Gonzalez with their first pick and Tony Ugoh with their second. Anthony Gonzalez has spent almost all of the past two seasons on injured reserve and Ugoh is no longer with the team. The Colts did not have a first round pick in 2008 and took guard Mike Pollak in the second round with their first pick. Pollack seems to be one highlight as he has started 33 games since entering the league. The Colts looked to replace Addai by selecting Donald Brown with their first pick in 2009, but he finds himself no more than the number three running back this year. Freeney, Manning, Clark and Wayne don’t have many productive seasons left, and due to poor drafting, the Colts don’t have many good replacements. This is it for the Colts.
This year, I see the Colts going 9-7. Manning has a little bit left, but not enough to get them back to the playoffs. The Texans will win the division at 11-5 while the Titans go 5-11 and the Jaguars finish in last at 4-12.