The year was 2011, The Houston Texans won their very first AFC South Division Title, qualifying them for the playoffs for their first time in franchise history. Since becoming an expansion team in the league and debuting in 2002, the Texans struggled most of their first years in the AFC South as Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were the AFC South powerhouse team for years and dominated the division. As a die-hard Texans fan, I personally watched Peyton destroy us for years! Not very fun times. It took the Texans nine years and a lot of good draft picks to help build the team they had in 2011 that clinched our very first playoff berth!
Since that magical 2011 season for the Texans, and Texans fans, the team has gone on to win three more AFC South Division titles. They repeated in 2012, then hit a 2-year slump, and now have gone on to win the division title for the two past years. Now we can add the Texans into the tier of one of the better up and coming teams in the NFL. That in itself, to me, is a great accomplishment for a team that is fairly new and still making their way in the league. The Texans and Colts still have a great division rivalry to this day, but it is just nice to see the Texans keeping up with Indy instead of being blown out by them. Times have really changed. Since the 2002 season, the Tennessee Titans have only won two division titles (02,08) and the Jacksonville Jaguars have yet to win an AFC South division title. That means it has been a Colts-Texans showdown for the last decade, which is crazy to think about.
My question is, who is going to challenge the Texans the most this year? Indianapolis is always gunning at our heels and knows how to show up during big games against us. Their main question is, how healthy is Andrew Luck going to be? Indy has lost the last two years to the Texans, so you know they will be ready to take back the throne. Tennessee will have a healthy Marcus Mariota leading them after coming back from a bad injury that knocked him out for the season late in the season last year. The Titans have been finishing in third place for a couple of years now, but many analysts and people think they are a definite sleeper team to beat out Houston this year. They had a very strong draft and have added pieces to their team that will help them get back on track.
As for Jacksonville, the only thing that is holding them back from competing with the Texans and the AFC South is their quarterback play. Blake Bortles has shown that he really cannot get the job done as the Jaguars have only won 11 games in 3 years after Bortles took over in week 3 in the 2014 season. He has a big time arm, but the interceptions hold him back from being a great quarterback. His inconsistency has shown and that is why the Jaguars are usually ending up in last place in the division each year despite the amount of talent they have.
Out of Indy, Tennessee, and Jacksonville, I think Tennessee has the best shot this year at challenging the Texans in the division for AFC South Champ. I am not dogging on Indianapolis or Jacksonville either, I just think the Titans have a good shot at us this year. The 2017 season is going to be very fun and interesting. Quarterback play for every single team in this division is going to be the most vital key to their success. Strong quarterback play along with a good defense will take you a long way in this division. I am so excited for the season to start and see how all four of the teams battle it out this year! Go Texans!