Houston Texans — Staying Healthy
Each year, the Texans appear poised to make a serious playoff run. And each year, their hopes are derailed by injury.
In 2017, this NFL upstart’s hopes were dashed by season-ending injuries to defensive tackle J.J. Watt (knee), linebacker Whitney Mercilus (pectoral) and then-rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. Houston won just a single game after Watson suffered a torn ACL following a victory against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 8.
Is this the year in which the bad luck ends?
Indianapolis Colts — Andrew Luck
They say once-star quarterback Andrew Luck (shoulder) will play again. But they said that a year ago at this time too.
He’s throwing a football again. But it’s been over a year since he’s taken a meaningful snap, so there are clearly going to be some proverbial rust to knock off the joints.
If not Luck, then what?
Jacksonville Jaguars — Quarterback
After boasting one of the best defenses in the NFL last season, paired with a strong running game, the Jaguars return to being legitimate AFC contenders in 2018.
If there’s anything holding the team back, though, it’s quarterback Blake Bortles.
Bortles can be effective if he’s not the guy. But teams rarely win without their quarterbacks being impact playmakers, and Bortles still has more than his share of unanswered questions here.
Just imagine what the Jags would be like if they had an above-average starter under center.
Tennessee Titans — Wide Receiver
Newly minted head coach Mike Vrabel inherited a pretty good defense in Tennessee — one now bolstered by veteran cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Vrabel’s ground game, notably with a dual-head approach with runners Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry, should be fun to watch. Yet there remain some questions at wide receiver. Rishard Matthews has overachieved his last two seasons with the Titans, so Vrabel can hope for that again this season. But 2017 rookie Corey Davis, picked up at No. 5 overall, will have to take that next big leap for this not to be a concern this year.