It’s safe to say that hopes are not particularly high for the AFC South this upcoming NFL season. The Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback carousel now turns to Matt Ryan. The Tennessee Titans traded top receiver A.J. Brown this offseason, the Houston Texans are relying on Davis Mills’ right arm and the Jacksonville Jaguars are still digging out from the Urban Meyer fiasco. There might not be a ton of NFL AFC South Wins to go around.
With that said, though, the race to win the AFC South should be an interesting one. The Colts have the best NFL division odds to take home the crown but the Titans should give them a run for their money. The Texans and Jaguars have a lot of work to do but in a relatively weak division, it’s not out of the question for them to hang around for two or three months. Let’s take a look at each team’s (very early) win totals:
Indianapolis Colts: 9½ wins (Over -155)
Despite going “just” 9-8 and missing out on the playoffs in 2021, the Indianapolis Colts are in a decent position to reclaim their first AFC South title since 2014. They’ve subbed out Carson Wentz, who played well for them last season – for Matt Ryan, who is probably an upgrade, and added a few nice defensive pieces in Stephon Gilmore and Yannick Ngakoue. But, Vegas has their NFL AFC South Wins figure at a fairly low 9½ , albeit the over is steamed up to -155.
The Colts are kind of the default pick in the division because of how uninspiring all the other options are. Jonathan Taylor is great and so is the defense, yet the offensive line will have a few new faces and Ryan is 37 years old, so you can understand the skepticism surrounding Indianapolis. Still, with the non-improved Tennessee Titans, the rebuilding Jacksonville Jaguars, and Houston Texans behind them, the Colts should win this division as -115 favorites.
Tennessee Titans: 8½ wins (Over -130)
The Titans have won back-to-back division titles and somehow went 12-5 last season even with Derrick Henry missing over half the year due to injury. What did they do? They traded A.J. Brown and let Julio Jones go, thus turning over the wide receiver reins to Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, rookie Treylon Burks and veteran Robert Woods, who is recovering from a torn ACL. It has been a weird offseason for a 12-game winner to be sure.
It’s not going to be easy for the Titans to eclipse Indianapolis in the AFC South standings unless the young guys on offense step up. They’ll need to help out Ryan Tannehill, who threw 14 interceptions in 2021 and hasn’t taken kindly to Tennessee drafting Malik Willis in the 3rd round. That turmoil, coupled with the Titans trying to recover from their crushing Divisional Round playoff loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, should make for a relatively disappointing season in Nashville.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 6 wins (Under -150)
The good news for the Jacksonville Jaguars is that things probably can’t get much worse. They’ve finished last in the AFC South for four years in a row and went 3-14 in 2021, struggling through an injury– and controversy-filled season under Urban Meyer. Through all the mess, Trevor Lawrence got a year of experience under his belt and he has some more weapons to utilize, from the healthy Travis Etienne to Christian Kirk and even former Giant Evan Engram. Also, Jacksonville broke the bank for stud right guard Brandon Scherff, who should help.
It’s still the Jaguars, though, and there’s a reason their over/under is a low six wins with the under being so heavily favored. Doug Pederson’s team is still very young and inexperienced and the defense leaves a lot to be desired, even after adding Darious Williams and Folorunso Fatukasi as well as No. 1 overall pick Travon Walker. Eclipsing their NFL AFC South Wins total is going to be difficult even with a relatively light schedule.
Houston Texans: 4½ wins (Under -125)
The Houston Texans team that Lovie Smith is inheriting to start the 2022 season isn’t great but it looks a lot better than it did before the 2021 campaign in which Houston went 4-13. Davis Mills set himself up well as the starter in his rookie season; the Texans used some of the draft haul from the Deshaun Watson trade to beef up their secondary, the offensive line, and wide receiver room – all of which were in need of upgrades.
Sure, Houston probably has no chance to compete with Indianapolis or Tennessee at the top of the division, but both Vegas and the betting public are expecting the Texans to go 4-13 or worse. They outperformed expectations last season and with an improved supporting cast around him, Mills could certainly lead Houston to more wins than the Jaguars. That’s a low bar but that’s probably a fitting threshold of success for the Texans.Follow us on Twitter