In this, part two of our NFL Preview, the focus will be on the AFC South. Are the Jags ready to knock of Peyton and the gang or will Houston come out and shock everybody by replacing both teams as the King of the AFC North Hill? Will Peyton’s knee be ready by opening night? Does David Gerrard have anyone to throw the ball to? Is Vince Young ready to become an NFL quarterback? Will his front office ever give him any weapons to find out?
These are just some of the questions facing members of the AFC South, which is probably the class of the AFC this season. I’ll lead things off in a familiar place when talking about this division:
When it comes to the Indianpolis Colts, the two things on the minds of fans and coaches alike is “injury” and “recovery.” Can their team recover from their various injuries to: Jeff Saturday, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders, Marvin Harrison, and some guy called “Manning?” If these players are healthy and, more importantly, capable of playing at 100%, there’s no reason the Colts can’t continue their reign as one of the three best teams in the AFC, if not all of football.
Of course, injury recovery is never a given in a league as violent as the NFL.
While last season was disappointing for the then defending Super Bowl champs, there were a lot of bright spots as well. First, the emergence of Reggie Wayne as a top-flight receiver. It was widely speculated this would be the case but once Harrison went down, Wayne proved he belonged by finishing the season with 104 receptions and 10 touchdown catches; however, Wayne wasn’t the only offensive player to shine for the Colts. Dallas Clark contributed mightily to Colts successes, establishing himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL.
Because of how the offense continued to produce after the injuries, the idea is, once the injured players got back into the rotation, the Colts should be as good as their Super Bowl-winning team, provided Manning fully recovers from his surgery. The health of Jeff Saturday (out at least six weeks) is an important story to keep an eye on as well because of how important he is the offensive line and Manning’s comfort level.
With a healthy team, the Colts look like a lock for 12-4, maybe even 13-3. However, if Manning is still being nagged by his knee and the offensive line can’t recover from Saturday’s potential absence, it could be a long season. As it stands, I betting on the Colts bouncing back, finishing 12-4 and winning the AFC South.
Hottest Colts Cheerleader
Introducing Tatyana. As you can see from her pictures, she’s a wise choice among a sea of cheerleading goodness. Judging from her pictures, she looks like a lot of fun.
More AFC South goodness after the jump >>