Look here, Matt: it says if Peyton doesn't play, you might be the top QB in the AFC South!
The Indianapolis Colts may have won the AFC South eight of the past 10 years, but after a season in which they did so with only 10 wins -- their fewest since 2002 -- the winds of change may be blowing through. Below is the first of our divisional previews which we will roll out as a precursor to more in-depth looks at the beasts of the AFC, Pittsburgh and New England.
1) Which QB in the division will have the best QB Rating at the end of the season?
Scott Simon: Schaub is going to have a big year, in part, thanks to his defense. He won't need to make as many plays or take as many chances this fall. That being said, it's Peyton. No question.
Sam Widdoes: I'll just assume this question is really asking "Who will be the best quarterback in the division?" The answer is Peyton Manning because Hasslebeck sucks, the Killer G's for the Jags will combine to be mediocre, and I'm still not ready to give Matt Schaub the division crown.
Johnny Hendrie: Obviously it depends on the health of Manning, which isn't looking particularly good right now for Indy. If healthy, it's Manning. If not, Paper MaSchaub by default.
Nate Hendrie: Matt Schaub. The Texans are banged up at RB to start the season, they have games against Oakland, Cleveland, Cincy and Carolina to fatten up, and no other team will start a QB for more than 13 games. Easy pick.
Dave Hendrie: The last thing I will ever do is underestimate Peyton Manning. Unless this is his last year I don't expect him to be anything but exceptional.
2) Will the Colts win any games after their bye week (CAR, @NE, @BAL, TEN, HOU, @JAX)?
Scott: They're going to beat the Panthers. And the Titans. And the Texans. 3-3 down the stretch.
Soom: Carolina and Tennessee are not good, and the Colts, for all their questions, beat teams they're supposed to beat. Especially in their divison, especially at home. Utah, GIMME 2!
Johnny: Any? I would say numerous. I still respect and have a level of appropriate fear of the Colts (as long as they are healthy). If it's a regular season game, Manning is no joke.
Nate: No. First, there isn't better than a 60% chance Manning is still behind center for those games, second, at full strength the only games they could take are Carolina and at Jacksonville. The kicker is, Carolina and Jacksonville will already be off the radar when they play the Colts due to double digit losses, so the "throw everything at them" mentality and the continued rookie maturation by weeks 12 and 17 wll add up to "upsets" over the Colts.
Dave: Yes. I am not worried about about the Colts.
3) Who wins more games in 2011 - Curtis Painter, or Blaine Gabbert?
Scott: YO GABBA GABBERT. I think Painter is overrated. Got a lot of pub because he was the QB at Purdue after Orton and Brees.
Soom: Painter. Look at the Jags' schedule, they might not win a game after Week 5, which is about the time I would expect Gabbert to take over. What a brutal schedule.
Johnny: Blaine Gabbert. Despite the big money given to Garrard, Gabbert certainly seems to be getting a real chance at the starting gig. If Manning is not healthy for the opener, I wouldn't be surprised if Indy goes with a vet like Favre or Kerry Collins.
Nate: Blaine Gabbert. There isn't a single team that will be shown to be thin, old, understrategized and overvalued than the Colts this year. I wish I could bet on them being relegated to the Big 12 after this season.
Dave: Gabbert. The Colts brought in Kerry Collins so I don't see Painter getting any snaps even if Manning is hurt. Gabbert looked sharp in pre-season.
4) Can you name a Jaguar WR or a Titan D player who isn't Cortland Finnegan?
Scott: Keenan McCardell and Jevon Kearse. Oh, wait...
Soom: Former Steeler, Chris Hope. Safety, Tennessee Titans.
Johnny: Wow, the Jags are atrocious at WR. Didn't realize that position was such a weak point. The Titans D on the other hand has some young guys like Derrick Morgan, Akeem Ayers, Jason McCourty, Jason Jones, Michael Griffin etc. who could turn out to be okay.
Nate: No. And that's not a good sign.
Dave: Is Chris Hope still on the Titans?
5) Who is the smartest player in the AFC South?
Scott: Kerry "I'll Have Another Tom" Collins. Going to get paid around a million bucks to come out of retirement and hold a clipboard. No way Manning is missing time. You know how many cocktails $1Million will get you?
Soom: Paul Posluzny. I loved this pickup by the Jags -- one of the more underrated of the entire offseason. If he can stay on the field, Puz could definitely challenge for the league lead in tackles.
Johnny: Jason McCourty. The McCourty twins are borderline brilliant young men who grasp complex defenses and never make the same mistake twice. Peyton Manning just studies hard like a nerd.
Nate: Myron Rolle.
Dave: I hate giving him this much love but you have to go with Manning.
Wait, he's there?
Nate: Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars. Finally, Jack Del Rio has found his mini-me.
Rookies to Watch:
Nate: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jags -- Killer hairstyle under a ballcap, might actually be able to make a couple throws.
Johnny: Brandon Harris, CB, Houston Texans -- The signing of Jonathan Joseph does not get nearly enough attention. He is absolutely a capable replacement for Dunta Robinson. The other side will be a competition between Kareem Jackson and Brandon Harris, should be interesting.