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Monday, July 21, 2008
A closer look at AFC South in power rankings

By Paul Kuharsky
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

I liked the way James Walker evaluated the AFC North in our power rankings so much, I'm going to borrow it and make it my own here on the AFC South patrol. Thanks, James.

Houston Texans

Kuharsky's vote: No. 20

Cumulative vote: No. 19

Why: The Texans got votes at No. 15 from Matt Mosley and Matt Williamson, but I think the general feeling is in line with mine -- while Houston can be solid, the other three teams in the division push it out of the top 16 and playoff range. I think the Texans are on a good course, that the new run-game scheme may be just what they need and that their stars haven't approached their peak. Still, they could play better and fare worse than last season's 8-8 based on the competition and their tough, early schedule.

Indianapolis Colts

Kuharsky's vote: No. 4

Cumulative vote: No. 2

Why: The consensus is the Colts will be atop the division again. They got one first-place vote from Pat Yasinskas, one second-place vote, five thirds and three fourths. My fourth-place vote had less to do with Indianapolis and more to do with three other teams I like better right now -- the Patriots, Chargers and Giants. I suspect the Colts' health won't be as big an issue by opening day. Their big question is about their ability to match 2006's playoff performance.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kuharsky's vote: No. 6

Cumulative vote: No. 5

Why: The panel is very high on the Jaguars and I'm right in line with them. It seems we're all believers in David Garrard, the youth push at defensive end and the revamped receiving corps, though the news about Jerry Porter missing camp after hamstring surgery came out after we voted. Mike Sando and Kevin Seifert are picking Jacksonville to unseat the Colts in the AFC South, with third- and second-place votes respectively.

Tennessee Titans

Kuharsky's vote: No. 14

Cumulative vote: No. 14

Why: I lined up with the group here, though Tennessee got votes ranging from 10th (Sando and Bill Williamson) to 20th (Jeremy Green). I think the Titans could be a playoff team again provided Albert Haynesworth is in place, LenDale White holds up and Vince Young progresses under Mike Heimerdinger. But they have a lot of question mark guys who all need to provide positive answers simultaneously -- Jevon Kearse and the rookie defensive linemen, Justin McCareins and the receivers, top draft pick Chris Johnson and the new left guard (probably Eugene Amano).