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The AFC South has bounced back -- sort of. 

The division had long been the butt of jokes thanks to the frequent losing ways, off-field dramatics and lackluster postseason performances from its four inhabitants. 

But entering 2022, the division has a bit more respect thanks to a string of strong seasons from the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. The Jacksonville Jaguars are now led by a Super Bowl-winning head coach, while the Houston Texans have an experienced head coach in Lovie Smith.

With the AFC South set to be a tightly-contested battle between its four teams this season, we are going to take a unit-by-unit approach to compare each team and how they stack up for the 2022 season.

For the purpose of context, we are ranking units and players based on how we project they will play in the 2022 season.

First up: the starting quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence and Davis Mills are entering their second seasons, while Ryan Tannehill is looking for a bounceback year and Matt Ryan begins his career as a Colt. 

Which team is set up to get the strongest play at quarterback? Which team could have a passer on the decline? We break it all down below.

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4) Davis Mills, Houston Texans

Davis Mills had one of the best rookie seasons of any of the 2021 quarterbacks last year despite being a third-round pick. He completed 66.8% of his passes for 2,664 yards (6.8 yards per catch), along with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He may not have wowed in many aspects, but he did enough to keep himself afloat and earn the chance to be the Texans' quarterback in 2022. 

Still, Mills presents arguably the least upside of any of the four starting quarterbacks in the AFC South. He finished No. 28 in QBR, No. 24 in DVOA, No. 24 in adjusted net yards per pass attempt, and had the No. 10-highest sack rate. He did better than most of the other rookies -- and did so on a worse team -- but there also wasn't quite enough to suggest he is more than what he is. With Houston still lacking playmakers on offense and up front, Mills is likely in for a longer season than last year.

3) Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans

This will be controversial, but it is our opinion that this is the year the Titans have to ask themselves about the quarterback position. Ryan Tannehill had a rebirth with the Titans after his Dolphins career and his 30-13 record as the Titans' starter reflects the success they have had with him under center. Still, there are signs that perhaps 2022 is when Tannehill hits the wall. 

Tannehill, who will be 34 this season, is looking at the prospects of a worse offense skill-wise after losing A.J. Brown. The Titans' top wideouts are Robert Woods, who is fresh off an ACL injury, and Treylon Burks, a first-round rookie receiver who is among the rawest prospects taken in the first-round this year. Considering we saw Tannehill decline in QBR, passer rating, DVOA, yards per attempt, touchdowns, yards, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, sack percentage, and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Tannehill had a shaky year in 2021 and the Titans are arguably worse now than they were then. 

2) Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

This is a projection after Lawrence firmly came in at No. 4 among the AFC South's four starting quarterbacks in 2021. Lawrence clearly struggled as a rookie, finishing near the bottom of the league in QBR, passer rating, DVOA, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. He only threw 12 touchdowns all year, and three of those came in Week 1. It wasn't a good rookie year by any means.

But Lawrence presents something no other quarterback in the division offers: immense upside. Lawrence has proven himself as a leader off the field, but his on-field play was inconsistent last year despite some high-level flashes. Lawrence was hurt by a poor supporting cast and the NFL's worst coaching tenure in Urban Meyer, but he still showed glimpses each week of why he was such a heralded prospect. Now, though, Lawrence will have Doug Pederson guiding him, along with an upgraded running back, tight end and wide receiver room thanks to the signings of Christian Kirk and Evan Engram and return of Travis Etienne. 

Lawrence is facing a bigger upgrade in coaching and skill group than Mills is getting in Houston. Add this to his natural talent and expected progression in his second season, and there are plenty of reasons to believe Lawrence could -- and arguably should -- be one of the AFC South's two best quarterbacks this season.

1) Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts

This one was tough. You can make an argument for any of Matt Ryan, Tannehill or Lawrence in this slot, but we go with Ryan to have the best year of any AFC South quarterback in 2022. While Ryan is no spring chicken at 37, he is entering a strong foundation with the Colts and has the scheme and weapons around and in front of him to succeed. 

Ryan didn't have gaudy numbers last year, throwing 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and finishing No. 21 in DVOA and No. 23 in QBR. But he still has another year and maybe even two in him, and the Colts have the running game, offensive line, offensive scheme and weapons at wide receiver to prop him up. Carson Wentz looked mostly fine with the Colts last year, so Ryan should look even better.