Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ramblings and Gambling Series: Regular Season Over Under - AFC South

In today’s post, we’ll move on to the AFC South, and take a look at how Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, and Tennessee stack up compared to their over/under. With Houston coming into the season with one of the top offensive units in the league, Tennessee coming off a fantastic run to end the season (8-2 over last 10), this division isn’t all about Indy anymore. Let’s get into the numbers.

Ramblings and Gambling:

by Erik Laurinovics, for The Football ERA

AFC South Non-Division Matchups: NFC East (NYG, PHI, DAL, WAS), AFC West (OAK, SD, KC, DEN)
Houston Texans Over/Under: 8.5
Pick: Over

Personally, I consider Houston to be the AFC South’s version of the Green Bay Packers. While not as talented overall, they have a formidable passing attack (#1 in 2009) and average defense (10th against run, 18th against pass in 2009). It seems unlikely that they’ll challenge Indianapolis for the division title, but finishing second is an achievable goal. I would predict a division record of 3-3 or better.
Looking outside the division, the NFC East will be challenging for Houston. The AFC West, however, should offer them 3, or perhaps even 4 wins, with San Diego looking vulnerable. With their offense, the Texans are truly an “Any Given Sunday” team that can challenge anyone, and will likely pick up a couple of unexpected wins because of it. 9 or 10 wins seems likely, and I’ll take the over.

Indianapolis Colts Over/Under: 11.0
Pick: Over

This pick is fairly straightforward. Indianapolis had a chance at regular season perfection last year, but did not want to jeopardize any star players for the playoffs. With no significant personnel losses in the offseason, and the return of a healthy Bob Sanders and Anthony Gonzales, there is no reason they can’t make a run again. Looking at the schedule, few teams pose a threat, with their three biggest challenges being @PHI, @NE, DAL.
They have a very good chance at a 5-1 or 6-0 division record, and should sweep the AFC West. The NFC East will be tougher, but I see a 2-2 record at worst there. I feel like 11 wins is the minimum for this team, and that the worst-case scenario here is a push.

Jacksonville Jaguars Over/Under: 7.0
Pick: Under

Jacksonville will have a hard time finding easy wins this year. The Jags finished last place in the division last year, and it will be hard to avoid the same result this year. While they spent the draft adding to their defensive line (first 4 picks were D-line), improvement will not happen overnight. Moreover, their secondary was one of the worst in the league in 2009, finishing 27th overall. With a lack of significant offseason improvement, I feel like the Jaguars will suffer a major regression this year as they try to rebuild. They will not threaten 7 wins. 4 to 5 wins is a much more realistic outcome for this team, making Jacksonville and the under a solid pick.

Tennessee Titans Over/Under: 8.5
Pick: Under

Tennessee without Albert Haynesworth was an entirely different team. Interestingly, while the rush defense finished 10th in 2009, the pass defense got torched and was ranked 31st in the league. While the offense has the best running back in the league in Chris Johnson, none of the Titans’ young receivers has developed into a playmaker, and that will continue to hold this team back. Vince Young, whether he improves or not, still has few reliable options to throw the ball to. While the Titans finished strong, winning 8 of their last 10, Vince Young had 187 YPG. Chris Johnson had 141 YPG on the ground alone over that same 10 game span. Until they can get some passing offense and defense going, they will struggle to win games.
Tennessee should be able to get 1 to 3 wins within the division, and should be able grab a few more wins from non-division opponents, particularly from the AFC West. I don’t see 9 wins there, however, and “wild card” opponents Pittsburgh and Miami will not provide sure victories. This isn’t exactly a lock, but I’ll take the under.

No comments: