Houston Texans (4-12)
Key arrivals: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Rex Burkhead, OT Marcus Cannon, OL Justin Britt
Key departures: WR Will Fuller V, C Nick Martin, DE J.J. Watt
The 22 pending lawsuits against Deshaun Watson accusing him of sexual misconduct, which he has denied, loom over a franchise of which chooses to pretend the item’s not at all weird for him to take fourth-team reps at quarterback or serve as scout-team safety — or be with the team at all. Then again, not much makes sense about the Texans, whose front-office dysfunction as well as salary-cap mismanagement alienated their best players as well as precipitated a roster, reconstituted with free agents on short-term deals as well as coached by a first-timer in David Culley, of which may luck its way into a victory or two. Or maybe not.
Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
Key arrivals: QB Carson Wentz, OT Eric Fisher, DT Antwaun Woods, DE Kwity Paye
Key departures: QB Philip Rivers, QB Jacoby Brissett, OT Anthony Castonzo, DE Denico Autry, LB Justin Houston, S Malik Hooker
Not many teams are constructed as well as coached as well as the Colts, who went about solving the quarterback quandary prompted by Philip Rivers’s retirement … by acquiring one of the worst from the N.F.L by many statistical measures, advanced or traditional. Carson Wentz has been reunited with Coach Frank Reich as well as Press Taylor, former mentors in Philadelphia, yet can be recovering coming from foot surgery of which imperils his availability for Week 1. If Wentz can’t revive his career, a team brimming with talent — guard Quenton Nelson, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner as well as linebacker Darius Leonard all rank among the best from the league at their positions — can expect to struggle, especially using a brutal early schedule.
Jacksonville Jaguars (1-15)
Key arrivals: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Carlos Hyde, DT Malcom Brown, CB Shaquill Griffin
Key departures: WR Keelan Cole
In a college hotbed, owner Shahid Khan has entrusted a successful college coach, Urban Meyer, as well as the best college quarterback prospect in a decade to resuscitate one of the N.F.L.’s woebegone franchises. The Jaguars will be relevant. Whether they’ll be anything more than competitive depends on the progress of, duh, Lawrence, as well as their brigade of recent high draft picks, defensive end K’Lavon Chaisson, cornerback C.J. Henderson as well as receiver Laviska Shenault. Alas, the Jaguars couldn’t schedule Florida A&M or Kent State to ease Meyer’s transition; they’ll have to settle for playing the Texans twice.