1. Indianapolis Colts
Even with a less than ideal quarterback situation last year, they were still competitive and now adding QB Philip Rivers should improve those odds.
2. Tennessee Titans
They kept QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Derrick Henry while adding Jadeveon Clowney for the defense. Not a bad offseason.
3. Houston Texans
It would seem that Bill O’Brien is safely entrenched as the Head Coach/GM in Houston barring a catastrophic collapse.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars
To think it was only 3 seasons ago that they were one game away from their first Super Bowl appearance.
Head Coach: Frank Reich
Key Position: Quarterback
There are questions and rightfully so about which Philip Rivers the Colts are getting. Will they be getting one of the most accurate passers of his generation who doesn’t take many sacks? Or will they be getting the turnover prone Rivers from last season who tried to force too many throws in double and triple coverage? Frank Reich is betting on the Rivers he coached during his time on the Chargers coaching staff when Rivers was one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league. He has the weapons to capitalize on his skill set and more importantly the offensive line to help him accomplish that.
Key Acquisitions: DT DeForest Buckner (San Francisco 49ers), CB T.J. Carrie (Cleveland Browns), CB Xavier Rhodes (Minnesota Vikings), QB Philip Rivers (Los Angeles Chargers)
Key Rookies: WR Michael Pittman Jr., RB Jonathan Taylor
Head Coach: Mike Vrabel
Key Position: Defense
They weren’t a bad unit last year, but they were exposed by the eventual Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game. Adding a couple pass rushers in Jadeveon Clowney and Vic Beasley puts more emphasis on getting to the quarterback with an underrated secondary that had 14 interceptions last year. This is Vrabel’s fourth season as the head coach and this needs to be an elite unit with his track record.
Key Acquisitions: LB Vic Beasley (Atlanta Falcons), LB Jadeveon Clowney (Seattle Seahawks), DL Jack Crawford (Atlanta Falcons), K Stephen Gostkowski (New England Patriots), CB Jonathan Joseph (Houston Texans), OT Ty Sambrailo (Atlanta Falcons)
Key Rookies: OT Isaiah Wilson, CB Kristian Fulton, RB Darrynton Evans
Head Coach: Bill O’Brien
Key Position: Defense
The offensive side of the ball is Bill O’Brien’s bread and butter, but before that the defense was a strength for some time in Houston. Now it has become a weakness with all of the personnel changes the last few off-seasons. J.J. Watt doesn’t have the kind of supporting cast anymore and will have to work twice as hard to get separation from opposing lineman. The secondary has depth, but too many inconsistent players put more pressure on the front seven to get to the opposing teams quarterback. Last years divisional round debacle in Kansas City was only just the beginning.
Key Acquisitions: WR Randall Cobb (Dallas Cowboys), WR Brandin Cooks (Los Angeles Rams), RB David Johnson (Arizona Cardinals), S Eric Murray (Cleveland Browns)
Key Rookies: DL Ross Blacklock, LB Jonathan Greenard
Head Coach: Doug Marrone
Key Position: Everything
While they are set at quarterback with Gardner Minshew who had an impressive rookie season (3,271 yards – 21 TD passes), the rest of the personnel group on offense is suspect. Who will be the primary running back with the ouster of Leonard Fournette? WR D.J. Chark Jr. was solid last year (1,008 yards – 8 TD catches), but can he repeat that performance? The one plus is the offensive line if they can remain healthy. On defense it’s another story with a unit that was among the best in the league just three seasons ago. There are bright spots, but a lot of uncertainty.
Key Acquisitions: TE Tyler Eifert (Cincinnati Bengals), DE Cassius Marsh (Arizona Cardinals), LB Joe Schobert (Cleveland Browns), RB Chris Thompson (Washington Redskins)
Key Rookies: CB C.J. Henderson, DE K’Lavon Chaisson, WR Laviska Shenault Jr., DT DaVon Hamilton