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AFC South Rebrand Continues | Vandermeer's View

As I sit and watch my thermometer go up and crypto go down, I'll take a little time to ponder the NFL neighborhood where the Texans reside: the AFC South.

The division has changed a lot in the last few years. Up until 2021 it had a four-season streak of being the only division in the league to get at least two teams into the playoffs each year. And during that time, all four squads made it to the post season.

The streak was broken last year when the Colts lost to the Jaguars in the regular season finale. For reasons that can't be explained through logic or any form of human reasoning, the Colts haven't been able to beat the Jags on the road since they last won the division in 2014.

That's seven straight! Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, Jacoby Brissett, Phillip Rivers and Carson Wentz haven't been able to close the deal in North Florida wearing the horseshoe during that span.

It's downright odd that the Colts haven't won the division since the Obama Administration. Over the last ten campaigns, the Texans have five AFC South crowns ('12,'15,'16,'18,'19), the Colts two ('13,'14), the Titans two ('20,'21) and the Jaguars have one ('17).

A big thing that's changed over the last three seasons is that this is a division identified as having the two best running backs in the game in Derrick Henry and Jonathan Taylor. Henry led the league in yards in 2019 and 2020 and Taylor finished third in '20 before taking the top spot in '21.

Henry finished ninth last year despite missing over half the season. The Jags' James Robinson finished sixth in 2020 and was slowed by injuries last year. Even in 2019, each AFC South squad put a running back in the top 13. With Andrew Luck and Deshaun Watson long gone, it's a running back branded division.

This is even with Matt Ryan coming in to be the latest pilot for the Colts. The 8th leading passer in the NFL history is still accurate but even Carson Wentz's numbers are comparable over the last five years. No one is saying it's not going to work but everyone in Colts camp knows that talk is cheap and they need to go on a run.

Indy's additions of Yannick Ngakoue and Stephon Gilmore are particularly eye-opening as the Colts look to make the NFL's ninth best scoring defense even better.

We all know that if Henry stays healthy for the entire campaign the Titans are once again a major threat at capturing the number one seed. We also know that the drafting of Malik Willis will create a lot of questions in camp, especially if he looks good in preseason games. Will he replace Ryan Tannehill? Will they work him in as part of special packages? This is must-see TV.

The Jaguars get yet another reboot with Doug Pederson coming in. The feeling about the new coach in North Florida is not unlike the one here; you get an experienced leader with a lot of pelts on the wall.

The Jags appear to be in good hands and Pederson will be charged with restarting Trevor Lawrence's career. Jacksonville added receiver help in the form of Christian Kirk and Zay Jones but it remains to be seen if there's enough firepower to get the most out of Lawrence, especially with Robinson still on the mend from an Achilles injury.

Is a new era dawning with Lawrence, Davis Mills and even Malik Willis? Will Matt Ryan get the Colts over the hump? Is this the year the Titans put it all together in the playoffs? There are so many questions and we'll all find out the answers together starting with training camp in late July.

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