The AFC South won't be mistaken for a super competitive division, but it did boast the No. 1 seed in the conference last year and sports another that some view as a dark horse Super Bowl team in 2022. With training camps opening up across the league and the regular season on the horizon, it's a perfect time to look at the win totals for each team and assess if they'll exceed expectations or fall short.
In Tennessee, the Titans shipped out A.J. Brown and brought in pass catchers Robert Woods and rookie Treylon Burks for Ryan Tannehill to keep the offense moving. Meanwhile, the Colts upgraded at quarterback with Matt Ryan. As for the two bottom dwellers in the Jaguars and Texans, they are each entering the upcoming year with intriguing second-year quarterbacks in Trevor Lawrence and Davis Mills.
Below, we'll dive into each AFC South team, highlight their win total odds and give our predictions.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Win total projection: 9.5 (Over +120, Under -140)
The biggest question surrounding Tennessee is what level of production they'll get from Ryan Tannehill. Last year, the veteran quarterback seemed to regress in his third season with the Titans and had more interceptions in 2021 than his previous two campaigns with the team combined. While the Titans were able to earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC with Tannehill under center last season, he was also their undoing in a Divisional Round loss to the Cincinnati Bengals where he threw three interceptions.
If Tannehill continues on this downward trajectory, that'll certainly muddy the waters for this win total prop and could even force a change under center with rookie quarterback Malik Willis now looming in the background.
Even with Tannehill's status a major question, this schedule isn't for the faint of heart. That said, four divisional games against the Texans and Jaguars bake in four wins for Tennessee. If they can clean up against other inferior opponents like the Giants in Week 1 and at Washington in Week 5, you're sitting at six wins. If you account for a split with Indy, you're at seven and now knocking on the door.
However, the rest of their opponents will be difficult, particularly during the stretch between Week 9 and Week 13. During that run, they'll face the Chiefs in Kansas City, the Broncos, the Packers in Green Bay, the Bengals, and Eagles in Philly. They likely won't be favored in either of those road games and could even find themselves home dogs if Denver lives up to the hype with Russell Wilson and the Bengals continue to look like the team that went to the Super Bowl last year. If they go under .500 over that stretch, it'd be tough to see them with double-digit wins.
The pick: Under 9.5 wins (-140)
Win total projection: 9.5 (Over -150, Under +130)
Yet again, the Colts have a new quarterback. This offseason, Indy decided to pull the plug on the Carson Wentz experiment and found an upgrade by trading for former Falcons star Matt Ryan. He should bring more stability under center, making the Colts the current betting favorite to win the division. Not only did the Colts bring in Ryan, but they helped add to a defense that already was inside the top-10 in DVOA last season by signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore and trading for pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue.
That improved roster is just one reason why the Over is a favorable bet here with Indy. They also have the third-easiest schedule in the NFL based on projected win totals and the sixth-easiest based on their win percentage in 2021.
The Colts have a soft landing spot to begin the year, facing the Texans and Jaguars on the road, but come home to face Kansas City. While facing teams like the Chiefs, Eagles, and Chargers isn't exactly a walk in the park, they do all come at home, which is a nice advantage for Indy.
The pick: Over 9.5 wins (-150)
Win total projection: 4.5 (Over +100, Under -120)
The Houston Texans currently have the lowest win total prop throughout the NFL. While a new head coach is running the show in Lovie Smith, they will be sticking with quarterback Davis Mills as he enters Year 2. If he can continue to take a leap after a promising rookie season, that could lead to Houston being more competitive on a weekly basis.
While the Texans may be able to surprise folks at times next year, their road isn't easy as they have the fifth-hardest schedule based on their opponents' win total projections. Even some of their more winnable games next year are on the road: at Bears in Week 3 and at Giants in Week 10. For Houston to see five more wins, they'd likely need to take care of those games, beat the Commanders at home in Week 11 and sweep the Jaguars in the division. Asking a team like the Texans to pull out three road wins just to get in the conversation of this total may be too big of an ask.
The pick: Under 4.5 wins (-120)
Win total projection: 6.5 (Over +105, Under -125)
Going from the dumpster fire that was the Urban Meyer era to new head coach Doug Pederson will do wonders for the Jaguars. The turmoil and outside noise sparked by Meyer stunted the growth of the roster, particularly franchise quarterback Trevor Lawrence. With a Super Bowl-winning coach now at the helm, it should be a more well-run operation in Jacksonville. That's also not mentioning the spending spree they just concluded in free agency and by bringing in defensive end and top pick Travon Walker along with linebacker Devin Lloyd in the first round. So, the roster and coaching staff should be much improved in 2022 along with general improvement by the players already in-house.
Will all that translate to the Jags going over six wins this year? Well, they do have a fairly easy schedule in 2022. They own the 12th-easiest schedule in terms of opponent win total projections and the seventh-easiest when looking at their opponents' combined win percentage from 2021.
For Jacksonville to realistically hit this over, they'd need to sweep the Texans, beat the Commanders in the opener on the road, beat the Giants at home in Week 7, and earn road wins against the Lions (Week 13) and Jets (Week 16). That would get them to six wins and then you'd have to bank on an upset somewhere else on the schedule or a split against either Tennessee or Indianapolis within the division.
If Lawrence takes a leap in Year 2 and looks more like the generational quarterback he was billed as coming into the league, there's value in the Over at plus money.
The pick: Over 6.5 wins (+105)