The NFL landscape is often difficult to predict, and there's no tougher division to predict than the AFC South. At first glance, it may appear that the Houston Texans will walk all over the rest of the division, claiming the crown for the second straight year, but it's not entirely that simple.
The Texans are a solid team, but staying healthy has always been an issue for them, especially for quarterback Matt Schaub. As impressive as T.J. Yates was as Schaub's replacement, the Texans need their starting quarterback to make a deep playoff run.
The Titans may be the biggest threat to the Houston Texans' divisional reign. The Titans are hoping to come back in 2012 with a strong running attack that they missed last season, and Matt Hasselbeck still provides them with a strong option at quarterback. They'll need to win more of their close games in 2012 as well as not dropping games to lesser teams. If they can do that, the Titans could give the Texans a strong challenge.
The Jaguars are the wild card team in the division. I'm really not sure what to expect from the Jaguars. On one hand, the Jaguars could be a very stellar team if quarterback Blaine Gabbert develops into an average passer. On the other hand, if Gabbert is unable to show progress, Chad Henne will be the Jaguars' starting quarterback, and the team would likely have difficulty improving on the deplorable offense. The Jaguars are a team to watch, even if you don't expect much from them.
The Colts are in full blow rebuild mode. 2012 is all about finding an identity and being competitive week in and week out. Andrew Luck will likely have a difficult time putting up big numbers with the Colts decimated offense, and their defense isn't looking much better. I'm looking for individual progression and growth from players on the Colts' squad in 2012. The fact of the matter is that most of them are not a part of the future Colts, and everyone on the team is playing for his long term job security.
The way I see it, the Texans and the Titans have the best chance of making a playoff run. The Jaguars have an outside shot at surprising everyone and being a playoff caliber team. Even so, I don't expect the AFC South to field two playoff teams in 2012, so it's all about winning the division. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy for the Texans, it's their division.