The AFC South seems to be a complete mystery after Andrew Luck’s surprise retirement. There are arguments for every team to win the division, but also, solid arguments against each team. There isn’t another division in football that is as hard to predict as the AFC South entering the 2019 season. Can Jacoby Brissett lead a talented Colts roster? Will Marcus Mariota be healthy enough to take the Titans back to the playoffs this season? Can the Texans offensive line protect Deshaun Watson? Is Nick Foles the guy in Jacksonville? We will inching closer to finding out these answers in Week 1 as every team faces a tough test to start the season.
Tennessee Titans at Cleveland Browns
The battle of the most hyped team in the league this offseason against one of the least. The Browns are America’s sweethearts after an offseason where they added Odell Beckham Jr. and Olivier Vernon from the Giants. Plus, Baker Mayfield’s rookie season has led to this Cleveland team being a popular pick to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. On the other side, the Titans still aren’t sure that Mariota is their franchise quarterback. The defense looks like it could end up being a top-five unit in the league this season, but the offense is a mystery.
In this game, the Browns will live up to the hype, although just barely. Many believe this won’t be a game, but the Titans have three consecutive winning seasons. Tennessee’s defense will keep them in the game, but a late Mayfield drive drops the Titans to 0-1.
Prediction: Browns 28 Titans 24
Kansas City Chiefs at Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are an enigma. Two years ago, they were one Blake Bortles drive away from appearing in the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Then, they end up picking in the top-ten in the draft just one season later. The once elite defense in Duval County is still good, but not dominant like it was two seasons ago. Facing Patrick Mahomes and the explosive Chiefs offense will not make it look any better.
I don’t believe there is much that Nick Foles and the Jaguars offense will be able to do to keep up with Kansas City. The Jaguars should be better than last year with a competent quarterback, but beating the Chiefs is going to be a tough task for any team this year.
Prediction: Chiefs 38 Jaguars 21
Indianapolis Colts at Los Angeles Chargers
The hits just keep on coming for the AFC South in Week 1. The Colts have to travel to face on of the most complete teams in the league. Los Angeles has a veteran quarterback with ample weapons around him. Not to mention the defense which includes elite pass rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. The secondary took a hit with the loss of Derwin James, but should still be good enough to stop Jacoby Brissett this week.
The Colts sputter in the season with Brissett at quarterback. Indy should still end up competing in the division with the roster that Chris Ballard has built, but this isn’t a good matchup to lead off the year.
Prediction: Chargers 34 Colts 17
Houston Texans at New Orleans Saints (MNF)
Are all four teams going to lose in Week 1? It looks like it with all four playing top tier opponents. The Saints are a Super Bowl favorite entering the season and are tough to beat in New Orleans. The Texans just dealt Jadaveon Clowney to Seattle and added a few new pieces from Miami, including Laremy Tunsil. There is too much turnover going on with this roster to be 100% ready to go on opening night. Especially along the offensive line which already was the weakest part of the roster.
In the end, the offensive line won’t be able to protect Watson. This game will be close and most likely come down to the last few minutes, but the Saints finish of the division with four losses in Week 1 on Monday night.
Prediction: Saints 31 Texans 27