Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Afc South Preview

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Afc South Preview

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Byline: Gene Frenette

HOUSTON TEXANS

Last season: 10-6, lost second-round playoff game to Baltimore.

What's different this year: Their two most important offensive weapons, QB Matt Schaub and WR Andre Johnson, missed substantial time with injuries and a return to health would allow the Texans to repeat as division champs.

Moving in right direction? Yes. This team finally reached its potential under tough circumstances last season. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has a young unit playing at high level.

Bottom line: Schaub is in final year of his contract, so he has plenty of incentive to make sure the overwhelming division favorite stays on a winning path.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Last season: 5-11.

What's different this year: Head coach Mike Mularkey was brought in to boost a lethargic offense, and he's also energized the organization with a consistent message of attention to detail.

Moving in right direction? Yes. The rebuilding job that began in 2009 under GM Gene Smith must start paying dividends. Second-year QB Blaine Gabbert looks improved after last year's disaster.

Bottom line: A solid defense should give Jaguars a chance to stay in games. How much they balance things out with an effective passing game will determine if this season is a success.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Last season: 9-7.

What's different this year: Second-year QB Jake Locker will step into a starting role, supplanting Matt Hasselbeck. Added DE Kamerion Wimbley to fix a suspect pass rush.

Moving in right direction? Yes. Head coach Mike Munchak did one of the best jobs in 2011 with a team that had many holes. Interesting to see if Locker can keep No. 1 job.

Bottom line: If RB Chris Johnson can return to form after last year's so-so production and Locker holds his own, the Titans might surprise again and reach the postseason.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Last season: 2-14.

What's different this year: A quarterback legend and four-time MVP in Peyton Manning was pushed aside to make room for another promising No. 1 overall draft pick, Andrew Luck.

Moving in right direction? Yes. The Colts were accustomed to double-digit win seasons under Manning. Luck's tools give them hope that they might not have to wait too long for that kind of return. …

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