Key: DVOA = Defense-adjusted Value Over Average, EPA= Expected Points Added
1. Tennessee Titans
Mike Vrabel’s Titans look ready to dominate the AFC and potentially get back to the AFC title game. Arthur Smith, who brilliantly coordinated this offense the last two seasons, is gone but Julio Jones steps in. Defensively not much was done but one thing that will be good is getting healthy again on the offensive line. Julio Jones and AJ Brown for Ryan Tannehill to throw to is going to be lethal, especially when Derrick Henry is also there to batter opposing defenses with his bruising physicality.
The decision to put the Titans first here is as simple as the previously mentioned statement and the fact that two teams in this division are dumpster fires and the Colts are banking on Project Wentz to pay off. Expect a playoff appearance but most likely a team that loses in the wildcard due to a loaded conference and Vrabel’s “run the damn ball” mentality.
Projected win total: 10 or 11 wins
2. Indianapolis Colts
Frank Reich yet again has a new quarterback but this one is a familiar face. Reich was the Eagles play caller in 2017 during Wentz MVP caliber season and now thinks after three years he can salvage that player. It’s a worthwhile gamble considering they weren’t high enough to draft a quarterback and trading up would’ve been costly. Wentz has the tools there still but is likely going to need a year to find himself again.
In the Colts favor for this project is that PFF graded their pass protection 12th a year ago and their receivers 16th. The Eagles graded 16th and 32nd respectively in those two categories. Wentz should have better protection and will definitely have better weaponry. The Colts will finish 2nd in this division but playoffs sound unrealistic.
Projected win total: 7 to 9 wins
Urban Meyer’s first job in the NFL is with a perennial doormat but there’s hope? The Jags now have highly touted rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence but the rest of their draft was questionable and the roster as a whole isn’t much better than a year ago when they picked first overall. PFF graded them 32nd as a team and FO had them 31st in team DVOA. They finished 28th in offensive EPA/play at -0.049 and their defense ranked 30th giving up 0.168 EPA/play. Meyer has never coached in the NFL and the disciplinarian-style coaches don’t seem to work out coming from college like Nick Saban for example. Lawrence at Clemson had great coaching, a great system, talented playmakers, and good protection. In Jacksonville, I’m not sure he has any of those things going for him.
PFF graded the Jags pass blocking 20thand their receivers 24th so it will be interesting to see how Lawrence handles a situation where he doesn’t have it all around him like he did at Clemson. DJ Chark and Marvin Jones aren’t a threatening receiver duo. There isn’t much to say but expect this team to offer what we expect from them and that’s mediocrity.
Projected win total: 5 or fewer wins
Finally, the Bill O’Brien era came to an end but the shitstorm this organization has spiraled further out of control. Star quarterback Deshaun Watson doesn’t want to play for them and he racked up over 20 accusations of sexual misconduct this offseason. David Culley isn’t going to do anything to turn this around. They were 4-12 last season despite Watson giving one of his best performances. PFF graded the Texans defense 31st a year ago and FO’s DVOA had them 30th while also being 31st in defensive EPA/play allowed at 0.168. There’s no way it’s not a nightmare in Houston this year.
Projected win total: 3 or fewer wins