AFC South preview

If there’s an easier division to call in the NFL, I’d like to see it. I mean, is there anything to say, really? Here’s what you can expect from this preview: A lot of discussion about how the Colts will destroy every team in this division, followed by lots of mockery of the Titans and the Reggie Bush-less Texans. Skip to the more relevant parts if you wish.

1. Indianapolis Colts (12-4)

Um?so the Colts have a few challenges in their schedule this year, including Denver, New England, Dallas, Miami and maybe Washington. And with the competitive Jaguars fighting for the playoffs, once again, we shouldn’t expect a repeat of last year’s 14-0 start. They will lose a few, possibly even early in the season if Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes don’t come through.

But this is still an elite group, one primed to capture a first-round bye, ride the hype machine into the playoffs and then finally win the Super Bowl choke in the playoffs once again. I mean, seriously folks?isn’t this the only logical conclusion? Of course it is.

But I’ll leave my Manning-bashing for January. For now, let’s just say that the Colts have plenty going for them, certainly enough to take the division again and maybe even make it to another AFC title game. The defense improved last season, specifically with the addition of Corey Simon.

The veteran defensive tackle is out for now but should return in two to three weeks to shore up the club’s run defense.

As for their title chances?well, the Colts do have road meetings in both Jacksonville and Houston, the site of two of the last three Super Bowls. So they may be able to at least feel like they were there?

2. Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6)

I know it’s cheating to take the first week of the season into account, but?well, it was an impressive performance against what should be a solid Dallas team. The knock on the Jags is that they can’t score enough points, and because of last year’s 12-4 record with that cupcake schedule, they still don’t get too much respect. Yet.

I’ve always liked Byron Leftwich, and he clearly has the talent-not to mention fourth-quarter moxie-to rise into the ranks of the league’s top quarterbacks. But the retirement of Jimmy Smith has to hurt, even if Matt Jones plays up to his potential.

And while it may not be much of a feat these days to intercept Drew Bledsoe three times, the Jags’ defense still looked good doing it. T.O. and Terry Glenn had little room to improvise against the Jags’ pass defense, so if that defense can hold up and Fred Taylor can stay somewhat healthy, a return to the playoffs isn’t unlikely.

3. Tennessee Titans (5-11)

So Steve McNair puts his future on the line, plays with a broken face, a broken ass and a completely broken body, and how do the Titans repay him? With a broken heart.

Audience boos.

The fact that the Titans refused to let McNair into the team’s facilities over the summer is one of the most shameless things I could possibly think of an NFL team doing.

On the plus side, at least now McNair fans won’t have to watch him playing in those ridiculous Titan costumes anymore. Even the Ravens’ purple unis are better than that crap. Why am I going on about this? Because the Titans are a bad, nondescript team with Kerry Collins playing quarterback. I just don’t have the stomach for it right now.

4. Houston Texans (4-12)

The masterminds who built the Houston Texans dynasty clearly knew what they were doing. How could we doubt them? After all, we’re talking about an organization that hosted the Super Bowl just a few years ago?

But seriously, who needs the best skill prospect of the last 10 years when you can have Wali Lundy, Ron Dayne, Vernand Morency and, now, Samkon Gado? And even if none of those guys work out, there’s always David Carr.

And even if the quarterback and the running backs don’t work out, you can always count on the offensive line?which will certainly improve from “worst in the NFL” because of the acquisition of?um?I forget?

But actually, you know what? Offense doesn’t really matter anyway. All you really need is a potentially strong defensive end who had one great half-season in college, and stud defensive backs like Dexter McLeon and Guss Scott, and the most clutch of all clutch kickers, Kris Brown. Point is?the Texans clearly didn’t need Reggie Bush. They have so much else going for them.