With the 2020 NFL regular season launching this week, we’re breaking down every division in a digestible fashion. Here’s a rundown of the AFC South.
2019 result: 10-6, 1st place, divisional-round loss
Major additions: WR Brandin Cooks, WR Randall Cobb, RB David Johnson, S Eric Murray
Major losses: WR DeAndre Hopkins, DT D.J. Reader, RB Carlos Hyde, CB Johnathan Joseph
Why they could kick ass: Quarterback Deshaun Watson is one of the best young players in the game and could turn a corner in his fourth season, especially if a talented defense and an improved offensive line can stay healthy.
Why they could suck: Watson no longer has a first-team All-Pro in Hopkins, who was traded to the Arizona Cardinals. And nobody should trust head coach Bill O’Brien.
2020 prediction: 10-6, 1st place, divisional-round loss
2019 result: 7-9, 3rd place
Major additions: QB Philip Rivers, DT DeForest Buckner, TE Trey Burton, RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Michael Pittman Jr., CB T.J. Carrie
Major losses: TE Eric Ebron, CB Pierre Desir, WR Devin Funchess
Why they could kick ass: They have the requisite talent at the skill positions, along the offensive line and on all three levels on defense, plus a hell of a head coach in Frank Reich. Rivers is undoubtedly an upgrade over Jacoby Brissett.
Why they could suck: Rivers’ numbers declined significantly in 2019, and it’s possible he’s running out of gas at the age of 38.
2020 prediction: 8-8, 3rd place
2019 result: 6-10, 4th place
Major additions: TE Tyler Eifert, LB Joe Schobert, CB C.J. Henderson
Major losses: DL Calais Campbell, edge Yannick Ngakoue, QB Nick Foles, CB A.J. Bouye, S Ronnie Harrison, RB Leonard Fournette
Why they could kick ass: Sometimes-sensational sophomore quarterback Gardner Minshew II could stun the league while Henderson and Josh Allen somehow keep the gutted defense afloat.
Why they could suck: A team that won just six games last year appears to be tanking following a gut-job on D, and there’s a very good chance Minshew has peaked.
2020 prediction: 4-12, 4th place
2019 result: 9-7, 2nd place, AFC Championship loss
Major additions: Edge Jadeveon Clowney, edge Vic Beasley Jr., CB Johnathan Joseph
Major losses: OT Jack Conklin, DT Jurrell Casey, CB Logan Ryan, QB Marcus Mariota
Why they could kick ass: If reigning passer rating leader Ryan Tannehill and reigning rushing champion Derrick Henry pick up where they left off, there might be no stopping Tennessee this time. Those two were smoking hot down the stretch in 2019.
Why they could suck: Tannehill and Henry were never even Pro Bowlers before suddenly exploding. Either breakout could have been an aberration, and losing Conklin hurts.
2020 prediction: 9-7, 2nd place