1st Place, Houston Texans: 13-3
Offense: QB Matt Schaub, RB Arian Foster, RB Ben Tate, WR Andre Johnson, TE Owen Daniels, T Duane Brown
Defense: DE J.J. Watt, LB Brian Cushing, LB Connor Barwin, LB Whitney Mercilus, CB Kareem Jackson, CB Jonathan Joseph,S Danieal Manning
The Texans look to me like one of the most well-rounded teams in the AFC this year. They have the makings for an explosive offense with the return of Matt Schaub behind center, and the terrific halfback duo of Foster and Tate. They also have their big wideout fully healthy for the first time in over a year. What makes them so good is that they have the defense to match their potent offense. With a solid linebacking corps led by Cushing, and a potential shut-down secondary, they have the weapons on both sides of the ball to keep up with anyone in the league. Their big key will be to keep everyone healthy. If they do that, and get a nice return from Schaub, they could find themselves in the AFC Championship, which they came so close to last year.
2nd Place, Tennessee Titans: 8-8
Offense: QB Jake Locker, RB Chris Johnson, WR Kenny Britt, TE Jared Cook, WR Nate Washington, G Steve Hutchinson
Defense: DE Kamerion Wimbley, LB Will Witherspoon, LB Akeem Ayers, CB Jason McCourty, S Jordan Babineaux
The Titans are a team on the up, but an improved division and a young QB could make it hard to do a whole lot more than 8-8 in 2012. The big key for their offense though will be the return of Kenny Britt, who's absence last year allowed teams to gear up with 8 guys in the box to stop CJ2K, which helps out both the run and passing game. Now with the emergence of Washington alongside Britt and Cook, the Titans have some weapons for Locker to use. Defensively, they still have some holes as they don't have a big pass-rush threat, but their secondary is solid and they should far decently against the run.
3rd Place, Jacksonville Jaguars: 6-10
Offense: QB Blaine Gabbart, RB Maurice Jones-Drew, WR Justin Blackmon, WR Laurent Robinson, C Brad Meester
Defense: DE Jeremy Mincy, DE Andre Branch, LB Daryl Smith, LB Paul Posluszky, S Dawan Landry, CB Derek Cox
The Jags are also a team on the rise, but probably a year or 2 away from being legit contenders. They appear to have found a QB able to lead them for the better part of the next decade, and have improved recieving corps big time this offseason. Justin Blackmon should be the leagues best rookie wideout in 2012, and Robinson is a great red-zone option (11 TD's in 2011). Luckily for them, MJD ended his holdout this weekend, so he should be ready for week one. Still, the problem with the Jags, and something they need to address to help Gabbart is their pass protection. They have to do better this season on that front. Their defense looks solid, with good pass-rush generated by the D-Line and a good linebacker group.
4th Place, Indianapolis Colts: 4-12
Offense: QB Andrew Luck (R), RB Donald Brown, WR Reggie Wayne, TE Coby Fleener, T Winston Justice
Defense: DE Corey Redding, LB Robert Mathis, LB Dwigth Freeney, CB Vontae Davis, S Antoine Bethea
Like every other team in this division, the Colts are too headed in the right direction, but are too young to do much but learn in 2012. Andrew Luck already looks like the real deal, but the other offensive weapons are less inspiring. Wayne should be a good target for the kid, and his TE from Stanford will be a solid security blanket, but the Colts need someone to step up in the backfield, preferably Brown. Defensively they still have their trademark speed and pass-rushers, and they've improved their secondary a bit. The big issue with them has been stopping the run, and they switched to a 3-4 this season to try to improve that.