Sports, Thrill of Victory

Chasing the Colts: Are the Titans the AFC South’s second best team?

Let’s start with what we know. Like it not, the Indianapolis Colts are going to be the best team in the AFC South this season.

The Titans are looking to fight their way back up the AFC South standings. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

The Titans are looking to fight their way back up the AFC South standings. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

After winning the division last year and making a trip to the AFC title game, the Colts have gotten even better.

Andrew Luck now has Frank Gore manning the backfield and Andre Johnson as his number one wide receiver. Stopping that trio is going to be nearly impossible.

So, it may be best for every other team in the division to have low expectations when it comes to chasing a divisional title.

But here’s what we don’t know:

Will it be the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, or Jacksonville Jaguars that have the best chance of taking reign of the division’s second spot?

It makes the most sense to start with Houston, who finished 9-7 last season and tried to maintain their status by having a solid off-season. However, despite a ridiculously talented defense, a couple of key questions regarding the offense could be the Texans’ undoing.

First, how do they possibly replace Andre Johnson? Sure, DeAndre Hopkins had a big year, but Johnson was still the most feared wide receiver on the team.

Perhaps more importantly, is Ryan Mallett or Brian Hoyer really Houston’s answer at quarterback?

For the Titans to claim second, they'll have to handle their business against the Texans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

For the Titans to claim second, they’ll have to handle their business against the Texans. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Then there’s the Jaguars. It’s safe to say that Jacksonville has reached that stage where it will have to prove it can win before anyone should expect it to.

The Jaguars can’t be much worse than they were a season ago (yes, they finished above the Titans, but that isn’t saying a whole lot considering that debacle of s season), but it’s hard to see them being all that improved.

And now we’ve come to the Titans.

Take a look around at all the preview articles and magazines. No one has a lot of faith in this team completely turning things around.

Honestly, that’s probably smart of them. While it’s obvious what type of potential this team has with players like quarterback Marcus Mariota and wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham now added to the mix, there are too many unknowns to label the Titans as a sure contender.

Especially when you consider that they only won two games in 2014.

The Titans have a lot to prove. Mariota hasn’t taken a single NFL snap yet, so for those on the outside looking in, it’s silly to think that he could be this franchise’s savior so early in his career.

But its hard to ignore that a sense of change is in the air in Nashville.

A change from the unstable quarterback situation of the past. A change from being the worst team in the NFL to being a team with a winning record. And maybe eventually, a change from playoff pretender back to playoff contender.

Change doesn’t happen overnight, though. Not in the NFL.

Marcus Mariota will be responsible for sparking the Titans turnaround. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

Marcus Mariota will be responsible for sparking the Titans turnaround. PHOTO BY DONN JONES, COURTESY TENNESSEE TITANS

So in the hunt for the AFC South’s second team, what have we learned? Well, we’ve learned that the Titans, Texans, and Jaguars all have significant concerns.

If you want to play it safe, pick the Texans. If you want an incredible amount of risk, pick the Jaguars.

Or if you want to take a chance on potential, pick the Titans.

Potential can be a dangerous word. Titans fans have learned that the hard way. Jake Locker had potential, and so did Vince Young.

For this franchise to move up the AFC South ladder and firmly take hold of the label of second best team in the division, potential will have to become a realization. Sooner rather than later.

If that happens, this team could make a charge up the division standings. Yes, possibly all the way to the second spot.

But unrealized potential? That’ll have the Titans staring up at the rest of the division for a second year in a row.