The Pi-Rate Ratings

September 6, 2008

AFC South Preview

AFC South Preview

 

With this preview, I will reveal the PiRate Ratings for each of the four teams in the AFC South Division.  Following those ratings are the Mean Ratings and my own biased opinion (last year’s final PiRate Rating combined with how much stronger or weaker I personally think each team is compared to last season).  That will give you three different ratings for the teams.

 

When all three ratings predict the same side to win a game against the spread, then that is a playable line.  If all three ratings agree on the winner of the game, and the Las Vegas Line is single digits, then that becomes a playable game on the Money line.  The reason for not playing any double digit spreads is that the Money line odds would be too prohibitive for a double digit favorite, where just one loss could result in a losing season.  During the season, I will also supply a list of games to be played with an imaginary bank account.

 

The predicted records are not tied to the PiRate or Mean Ratings; they are strictly from my biased ratings.

 

I expect 2008 to have a changing of the guard at the top of the division.  Indianapolis has dominated the South Division since its inception, and I believe Jacksonville is poised to take over the top spot this season.  The Colts should still easily make the playoffs as a wildcard, while the Titans and Texans beat up on teams outside the division and threaten to make this two straight years with no losing record in the division.

 

Houston Texans

 

PiRate

99.0

Mean

97.5

Biased

97.3

Run Offense

D

Pass Offense

B+

Run Defense

B-

Pass Defense

C

Special Teams

A

Predicted Record

7-9

Offense: Matt Schaub is a better than average quarterback, but he has never played a full 16 games in any season.  Backup Sage Rosenfels plays just as competently as Schaub, so there isn’t much difference in who plays under center.  The big problem is an anemic running game.  Ahman Green is well past his prime, and Chris Brown is an injury waiting to happen.  Look for the Texans to finish under 100 yards per game in the rushing department.  The receivers are competent but not fantastic.  Kevin Johnson and Andre Walter aren’t game-breakers, but they aren’t chopped liver either.  They will get open and catch passes, but don’t expect fancy yards per catch numbers.

 

Defense: The defense will progress as long as end Mario Williams continues to play like he did last year.  Williams proved worthy of his being the first pick in the 2005 draft when he recorded 14 sacks and proved to be almost as good against the run last year.  The secondary is a question, and lack of an adequate back line will prevent this team from taking a step forward. 

 

Special Teams: When you have a player who returned three kicks for touchdowns the year before, you have to take notice.  Andre Davis cannot possibly repeat that feat again this year, but he is likely to force opponents to alter their regular kickoff strategy.  That will give the Texans good starting field position.  Kicker Kris Brown has a strong and accurate leg, and he can win a game with a 55-yard field goal.  Punter Matt Turk is more effective due to an outstanding coverage team

 

Summary: Houston may take a small step backward this year.  With little running game support, teams will sell out and go hard at the Texan quarterbacks.  It won’t be a return to the David Carr days, but it will mean a losing record.

 

Indianapolis Colts

PiRate

110.9

Mean

106.7

Biased

102.6

Run Offense

B

Pass Offense

A

Run Defense

B

Pass Defense

B

Special Teams

C

Predicted Record

10-6

Offense: Peyton Manning is still one of the best quarterbacks of all time, but this will be a down year for him.  Never much of a scrambler, he will be even less mobile this year on the heels of minor surgery to repair an infected bursa sac in his left knee.  Throw in the fact that his center for most of his time in the NFL, Jeff Saturday, is out with an MCL injury to his knee, and the Colts actually have an offensive liability of sorts this year.  While Indy won’t all of a sudden look like the Chiefs, this offense will score fewer points this season than it has in many years.  Look for a drop down to about 385 points.

 

Defense: The Colts’ defense is usually overlooked due to the powerful offense, but this year, the stop troops may be forced to dominate to win a couple of those tough games against playoff-quality opponents.  There is a concern at the beginning of the year with the defensive line, as three starters (tackle Raheem Brock and ends Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney) begin the season with injuries in their legs.  The secondary is terrific, but they may have to defend a bit longer on passing plays this year if the pass rush fails to get to the quarterback.

 

Special Teams: The Colts are not strong here.  Kicker Adam Vinateri suffered through his worst season last year, failing to make even one field goal of 40 yards or more.  Whether that was an aberration or a sign of decline is still to be determined.  Punter Hunter Smith is run-of-the-mill.  T.J. Rushing has the potential to be a game-breaker in the return games.

 

Summary: Many teams would be ecstatic with a 10-6 record, but if the Colts fall to this mark, it will be a disappointment.  After many years of 12, 13, or 14 wins, I see Indianapolis dropping to 10-6 and having to play as a wildcard in the playoffs.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

PiRate

108.8

Mean

105.6

Biased

103.3

Run Offense

A-

Pass Offense

B

Run Defense

B

Pass Defense

B

Special Teams

B+

Predicted Record

11-5

Offense: David Garrard is an underrated passer who will start to get more recognition this season.  Garrard plays intelligently, never forcing a pass when another option is available.  He may not put up the numbers that Brady, Romo, or Peyton Manning puts up, but he gets the job done.  Jacksonville should top 400 points for the second year in a row.  There are some troubles in the receiving corps at the beginning of the season with injuries to Jerry Porter and Reggie Williams, but once they are healthy, this will be a solid but not spectacular group.  The running game should be stable and consistent with quality depth.  Fred Taylor will top 1,000 yards again if he stays healthy, while backup Maurice Jones-Drew has the potential to gain 1,000 yards if he gets more touches.

 

Defense: The Jaguars will be considerably better defensively this year, and that is why they have a shot at the Super Bowl.  I expect the stop troops to respond positively to new coordinator Gregg Williams and his pressure defense.  A healthier John Henderson will team with ends Paul Spicer and Reggie Hayward to make a formidable front line.  The second line of defense is top-rate, and the trio should thrive in the new system.  If middle linebacker Mike Peterson can play a full 16 games, the Jags could win 12 or even 13 games.  Jacksonville has a pair of fine cornerbacks leading the secondary.  Rashean Mathis and Brian Williams force passes away from their area.

 

Special Teams: This isn’t necessarily a strong unit, but they won’t lose games for the team either.  Kicker Josh Scobee is more-than-adequate but not among the league’s elite.  Punter Adam Podlesh is good at pooch punting the ball inside the opponents’ 20 yard line, but I expect he will have fewer chances to do so this year.  Jones-Drew will cause opposing kickoff coverages to fret.

 

Summary: The Jags may repeat with an 11-5 record this year, but I expect 11 wins to be good enough to win the division.  Additionally, this team may be better equipped to handle the playoffs.  While San Diego and New England will be favored over them, the Jags are a challenger for AFC supremacy this year.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

PiRate

99.4

Mean

99.5

Biased

98.6

Run Offense

B

Pass Offense

C-

Run Defense

B

Pass Defense

B

Special Teams

B-

Predicted Record

7-9

Offense: This is a team of ifs.  If Vince Young can become another version of Donovan McNabb rather than Bobby Douglass, the Titans have a chance to go places.  However, it’s a big if.  In the preseason, Young failed to lead the first team on any touchdown drives in the four games.  His passes were off target with regularity.  The next if is with the running game.  If rookie Chris Johnson proves to be a breakaway back and can supplement the power running of LenDale White, the Titans can set up the pass with their running game, especially if Young can take off on some long scrambles.  The receiving corps is nothing special, but Alge Crumpler, Justin Gage, and Justin McCareins will get open in the short to medium routes.

 

Defense: One player can make a difference, and it showed just how the Titans relied on him last year.  With tackle Albert Haynesworth in the lineup, Tennessee went 10-3 last year.  Without him, they were 0-3 and allowed double the amount of rushing yardage per game.  Jevon Kearse returns to his original team replacing Antwan Odom.  The linebacking unit features Keith Bulluck, one of the more underrated players in the league.  The secondary is good but not great.  Michael Griffin has the potential to be an all-pro safety, but he has to learn to play in control.

 

Special Teams: Kicker Rob Bironas was the top offensive weapon in 2007, and he enters the 2008 season with an injured groin.  Punter Craig Hentrich is starting to show signs of age, but he is still serviceable.  The Titans missed Pacman Jones last year (at least on the field), and they are looking for new blood to infuse their return game.

 

Summary: With two solid teams in the same division and an up and coming rival in their former city, the Titans are not going to repeat as an AFC Wildcard team this year.  Tennessee will struggle to reach .500 this season.  Young must step up and become a passing threat this year, or this team is headed for some rough times in the years ahead.

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1 Comment

  1. Can you provide more information on this for the rest of us far-away (Europe) Redskins fans?

    Comment by I got a Redskins Albert Haynesworth Jersey — March 24, 2009 @ 12:01 am


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