Indianapolis Colts

Down Here

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NFL season is underway and there is a lot of room for improvement for several teams. We are going to take a look at the AFC South and preview the Week 2 matchups.

Indianapolis @ Jacksonville: This sounds crazy to say but the Colts acquired Matt Ryan to win games like this. Last season with a playoff berth on the line in Week 18, Indy lost in Jacksonville (3-14) to a bad team. That’s when they realized they had to move on from Carson Wentz and upgrade the quarterback position.

On paper it looks like the Colts have a complete team and they only need solid quarterback play to make a deep playoff run. They tied division rival Houston in Week 1, 20 – 20. Matt Ryan did throw for 352 yards and a touchdown in his debut but he also had two turnovers.

The Jaguars are coming into the season with optimism. Doug Pederson is the new head coach and he’s the man that finally brought a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. Trevor Lawrence is also expected to drastically improve in his second year in the league. The Jags lost to Washington 28 -22 to start the season.

The Colts are looking to send a message to Jacksonville and they will win convincingly.

Houston @ Denver: The Texans are expected to be a bad team but they put up a very good fight against Indy. The game ended in a tie but they did lead 20 – 3 going into the fourth quarter.

Lovie Smith is in his first year as head coach. He served as associate head coach and defensive coordinator for the Texans for the 2021 season. The defense recorded 25 takeaways in 2021, tied for tenth.

“Obviously we didn’t lose the game, but it kind of feels that way since we were up, we were doing so many good things in the beginning and then they came back,” Houston linebacker Christian Kirksey said.

Quarterback Davis Mills threw for 240 yards, 2 touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 62% of his pass attempts.

Receiver Brandon Cooks led the team with 7 receptions for 82 yards. Houston struggled running the ball, gaining 77 yards on 28 attempts.

We all know the Broncos have Russell Wilson now but I don’t think they are an elite team.

I pick Denver to win but not a blowout.

Tennessee @ Buffalo: This is a Monday Night Football game so we expect it to be good.

They played Monday night last season and the Titans won, 34 – 31. Some things have changed since last year though because the Bills are the favorite to win the AFC.

They started the season by blowing out the defending Super Bowl champion Rams on the road, 31 – 10. Josh Allen looks like he might win MVP this season.

Tennessee lost a close game to the Giants 21 – 20 so they are looking for their first win of the season. Derrick Henry played his first regular season game since his 2021 foot injury. He rushed for 82 yards on 21 carries. Ryan Tannehill is looked at as the weak link, which is why they drafter quarterback Malik Willis in the third round of the 2022 draft.

They also traded star wide receiver A.J. Brown to Philly on the first day of the draft so they are missing a key weapon.

I expect Buffalo to win by double digits.

AFC South Draft Preview

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The 2021 NFL Draft is later this week. Let’s take a look around the AFC South to see who will be drafted in the first round.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars (1-15) earned the top pick but they also have the 25th pick.

With a record that bad they clearly need help at several positions. Legendary college coach Urban Meyer came out of retirement and was hired as head coach.

We know Clemson Quarterback Trevor Lawrence is going to be the first pick in the draft. He has all of the measurables, standing 6’6 and 220 pounds. He has high football IQ and a strong arm. He has basically every accolade you can get as a college player except for the Heisman Trophy.

He’s a national champion and led his team to the College Football Playoff in the three seasons he played. The last quarterback prospect I can think of that was clearly the top prospect like this was Andrew Luck. I expect him to be very successful in the NFL.

With the 25th pick. I think a difference maker at wide receiver is what they will get to pair with Lawrence.

Purdue receiver Rondale Moore fits that mold. Purdue only played four games last season and Moore played three of them.

He had 35 catches and 270 yards.

His best statistical season was as a freshman in 2018. He had 114 catches, 1,258 yards and 12 TD’s.

He ran a 4.33 40 at his pro day so he’s very fast.

Florida receiver Kadarius Toney is also another possible selection. In 11 games he had 70 receptions, 984 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Indianapolis: The Colts (11-5) are a very solid team. Philip Rivers played his only season in Indy last year and led the team to the playoffs before he retired.

Now they have Carson Wentz as the signal caller. The Colts have the 21st pick so they can go in several directions depending on the players still available.

Ole Miss wide receiver Elijah Moore would be a good pick. In 8 games last season he had 86 receptions, 1,193 yards and 8 touchdowns. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at his pro day. He reminds me of Tyreek Hill and Indy could use a playmaker at wide receiver.

Miami edge rusher Jaelan Phillips might be another possibility. He’s 6’5, 266 pounds so he has ideal size for the position. In 2020 he had 45 total tackles and 8 sacks.

Tennessee: The Titans (11-5) won the division last season. They advanced to the AFC Championship game in 2019. I think this team is a serious championship contender.

Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins would be a good pick to strengthen the offensive line. We know Tennessee loves to run the ball with Derrick Henry, so this makes sense. He was First Team All-Big 12 in 2020.

At 6’6 and 320 pounds he looks the part. He’s very physical and aggressive.

Virginia Tech corner back Caleb Farley might also be a possibility. He opted out of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns. He recently had back surgery, which is something to consider. In 2019 he had 20 tackles, 12 pass deflections and 4 interceptions.

The Houston Texans (4-12) do not have a first-round pick. I’m looking forward to the draft to see how teams will address their needs.

Southern Charm

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

Week 11 of the NFL season is in the books.

The contenders are starting to rise to the top and separate themselves at this point.

Let’s take a look at the AFC South and grade the teams thus far.

Jacksonville: The Jaguars (1-9) have the second worst record in the league behind the winless New York Jets.

The lone win came in the season opener, so they’ve lost nine consecutive games.

Quarterback Gardner Minshew fractured his right thumb in Week 7 against the Chargers.

Jake Luton has been playing since then and he’s struggled. In his last two games he’s 34 of 72 passes for 320 yards, 1 touchdown and 5 interceptions.

Minshew may return next week against Cleveland. One bright spot has been rookie running back James Robinson. He’s rushed for 762 yards (3rd) and 5 touchdowns.

The Jags are 27th in total offense and 30th in total defense.

The best thing they have going for them is they can possibly land the top pick in the draft. At this pace they should pick no worse than second. Grade: F.

Indianapolis: The Colts (7-3) are tied for the division lead.

Veteran QB Philip Rivers is in his first season in Indy.

He has a problem turning the ball over and he has thrown 8 interceptions up to this point.

They don’t have a big-time playmaker on offense. The Colts have a couple of talented backs in Nyheim Hines and Jonathan Taylor.

They are coming off of a good overtime win against Green Bay Sunday.

The defense is elite, ranked second in total defense. They allow less than 300 yards per game and 21 points per game.

The offense isn’t bad, ranking 13th in total offense. This team is a contender because they have a great defense that can keep them in any game. Grade: B+.

Houston: The Texans (3-7) fired head coach Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start.

He also traded All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals in the offseason.

Quarterback Deshaun Watson is a very good young quarterback, but he does not have much to work with. Wide receiver Will Fuller V has over 700 receiving yards and Brandon Cooks has 634.

Houston is 18th in total offense and defense.

They are 2 – 1 in their last three games. The one loss was 10-7 to the Browns. They can realistically win half of their final six games that include Detroit, Chicago and Cincinnati.

They are not going to make the playoffs so that might be pointless. Grade: D.

Tennessee: The Titans (7-3) look like they are picking up where they left off last season.

They play old school football by running the ball and controlling the clock.

Running back Derrick Henry leads the league in carries (229), rushing yards (1,079) and he has 3 rushing TD’s (3rd).

QB Ryan Tannehill is good enough to make plays when the run game isn’t working. He’s thrown for 22 touchdowns; 4 picks and he’s completing 71% of his passes.

They just beat the Ravens in overtime, so they play well against good teams.

They did lose to Indy 34-17 two weeks ago. They play again this week and they cannot afford to get swept. Grade: B.

AFC South Draft Preview

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NFL Draft fast approaches. After free agency ends, we will have a clearer picture on the direction teams will go in for the draft.

I’m going to examine the AFC South and who will be selected in the first round. This is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL with only one team ever winning a Super Bowl (Indianapolis).

Houston and Jacksonville have never been to the big game and Tennessee has only been once.

Jacksonville (5-11): The Jaguars looked poised to be one of the best teams in 2018. They had an elite defense in 2017 and relied on the ground game with Leonard Fournette. That formula led them to the AFC Championship game where they led New England in the fourth quarter.

We know how that played out. Quarterback Blake Bortles was the obvious weak link of the team. He was rewarded last offseason with a three year contract extension worth $54 million. It seemed to pay off early after they got off to a 3-1 start. That included a victory over the Patriots. Then they had a seven game losing streak.

Quarterback is the position that must be addressed. If they don’t acquire Nick Foles in free agency they will draft a QB with the 7th pick. Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray will get selected. The Heisman Trophy winner has great talent but lacks ideal height.

Tennessee (9-7): The Titans have had two consecutive winning seasons. They have several needs they can address with this pick like wide receiver, guard, edge rusher or quarterback. Their franchise QB Marcus Mariota cannot stay healthy.

One possible pick is NC State receiver Kelvin Horne. He could be paired with Corey Davis to make a dangerous passing attack.

If they go with a pass rusher Jachai Polite of Florida could be the pick. Last season he had 11 sacks and 6 forced fumbles.

Houston (11-5): The Texans won the division but lost in the Wild Card round to the Colts. They finally have a franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson but they can’t protect him.

He has one of the best receivers in the game (DeAndre Hopkins). They should draft an offensive lineman to help with that problem.

Offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor (Florida) would be a good pick. He would be a day one starter. If he is not available tackle Greg Little from Ole Miss will be picked. He looks like he will be the fifth o-lineman picked in the first round but he still has good value. He’s a good pass blocker but he needs to be more consistent.

Indianapolis (10-6): The Colts have one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck. He missed the entire 2017 season and came back in 2018 with a vengeance. They have a pretty good offense and they need to get better on defense. The biggest needs are at cornerback, defensive line and wide receiver.

Washington corner back Byron Murphy would be a good pick if available. He had four interceptions and 58 total tackles in 2018. He’s physical enough to help stop the running game and he can cover.

Receiver D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss is also a possibility if they do not add another WR in free agency.

I’m excited to see if one of these teams can become a serious contender after the draft.


AFC South Draft

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The NFL Combine is currently happening in Indianapolis. Personally, I don’t put too much stock in to the workouts that we see there. I think what we’ve seen on film really gives us an accurate idea of how good a player is.

The AFC South is one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. Jacksonville shocked the world by advancing to the AFC Championship game and they actually played well enough to beat New England. Let’s take a look at each team’s draft needs.

#3 Indianapolis: The Colts (4-12) obviously had a disappointing season. Andrew Luck missed the entire 2017 season with a shoulder injury. He’s supposed to return in 2018 but we will see. There are several positions that can be addressed like running back, offensive line, cornerback, defensive end and outside linebacker.

The Colts need to protect Luck so offensive line is very important. They also need a pass rusher because they finished 31st in sacks (26) and 26th in QB hits (75).

NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb would be a good pick. He’s 6’4, 275 pounds and he’s shown he can cause Havoc in the backfield. He had 10 sacks in 2016 and 2017 with over 20 tackles for loss as well both seasons.

#68 Houston: The Texans (4-12) moved up in the draft last year to draft a franchise quarterback (Deshaun Watson), which paid off. Unfortunately, Watson’s season ended with a torn ACL. Now Houston does not have any picks in the first two rounds. They do have three picks in the third round.

The biggest team needs are defensive back, offensive line, running back and tight end. I’m not sure what players will still be available in the third round so I can’t make a draft prediction for the Texans.

#25 Tennessee: The Titans (9-7) had a pretty good season. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. They won in the first round at Kansas City. They have a lot to be proud of.

Tennessee has a franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. He’s the first Titans QB to throw for 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons since Steve McNair in 2002-03. Heading into his fourth year Mariota is expected to become a top-10 quarterback.

Team needs are offensive line, cornerback and running back. The running game has been very strong the last two years but the Titans are likely to release DeMarco Murray, saving $6.5 million under the cap. Derrick Henry is probably not going to be handed the feature back role without competition.

Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea might be picked here. He would be a nose tackle in their defense.

#29 Jacksonville: The Jaguars (10-6) had an amazing 2017 season. They got to the playoffs for the first time in a decade. They were ranked 2nd in total defense. Rookie running back Leonard Fournette was 8th in rushing with 1,040 yards and 9 touchdowns.

The formula of good defense and a strong running game can win on the road in the playoffs. That’s why the Jags were able to beat Pittsburgh (again) in the second round of the playoffs. They also led New England for most of the AFC Championship.

Quarterback Blake Bortles is looked at as being a weak link but he just signed a three-year contract. I don’t think he’s an elite level talent but he’s pretty decent.

The biggest team needs are offensive guard and middle linebacker. Ohio State OG/C Billy Price will address that need.


Who Will Win AFC South?

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

We are in October and the first quarter of the NFL season is in the books.

It’s almost too early to really know the contenders and pretenders. In previous years, teams have started the season 5-0 or 6-0 and still missed the playoffs. I’m going to try to determine how the teams in the AFC South will fare the rest of the season.

Continue reading

AFC South Draft Preview

By: Kenneth Harrison Jr. news services

The AFC South has been one of the weaker divisions in the NFL over the last few years. The Indianapolis Colts have dominated since its inception but recently the Houston Texans have taken over. Let’s check the first round draft picks and see if anyone can change that.

Continue reading