Following the NFL schedule release, fans and analysts often try to predict which games will be won and lost by each team. Another key aspect of the schedule release involves sportsbooks setting the predicted number of games any given team should win, using the book’s models.
In this series, each of the eight NFL divisions will be previewed on a team-by-team basis. The win total projections below have been taken from Caesars Sportsbook, via ESPN.
The seventh division that will be assessed is the AFC South. This should be an interesting division with the addition of a former MVP, a Super Bowl-winning head coach, and two top-three selections from the 2022 NFL Draft.
Previous divisions in the series:
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 9.5 wins
2021 Record: 12-5
The Titans had a great 2021 campaign, finishing with the top seed in the AFC with 12 wins. However, this stellar season came to a screeching halt when the eventual AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals came to town in the Divisional Round and beat the Titans in Tennessee. In the game, Ryan Tannehill had three interceptions, just one example of him not being the quarterback of a few years prior.
The former Texas A&M Aggie will be 34-years-old when the season commences, and his numbers have worsened since joining the Titans. In each consecutive season with the team, Tannehill has increased his interceptions, decreased his yards per pass attempt, and lessened his big time throw percentage, per PFF.
To make matters worse, he lost his best pass-catcher in A.J. Brown, as the star receiver was traded to the Eagles on draft night. Despite finding a rookie replacement in Arkansas’ Treylon Burks, matching Brown’s production in his first year is simply unrealistic.
Reaching A.J. Brown’s rookie numbers would be unbelievable, as the former Titan surpassed 1,000 yards while averaging over 20 yards per reception in his first year. Brown finished with over 400 receiving yards more than the next Tennessee player last season, illustrating his value in their offense.
The team did play well last year, but whether this can be replicated is yet to be seen. Six of their wins came in one-possession games, and the Titans face the AFC West in 2022, one of the fiercest divisions in football. The team has only reached double-digit wins twice in the past 13 seasons, and this threshold could prove difficult to achieve.
Prediction: Under 9.5 wins
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 9.5 wins
2021 Record: 9-8
Since Andrew Luck retired from the NFL just before the 2019 season, the Colts have turned to a few starting quarterbacks. Jacoby Brissett led the way in the ensuing season, Philip Rivers played in 2020, and recently-traded Carson Wentz started last year. Indianapolis will continue this trend, trading a third-round draft selection for Matt Ryan in March.
Showing he has gas left in the tank, Ryan threw for nearly 4,000 passing yards last season with a below-average receiving core in Atlanta. Since 2012, the newest Colts quarterback has totaled the most passing yards, completions, and passing first downs in the NFL.
This offseason, the Colts signed Stephon Gilmore to a two-year contract. The former Panther has allowed less than one yard per coverage snap and ranks top-ten of qualifying cornerbacks in QB rating when targeted over the past five seasons. Having Gilmore and Kenny Moore II at cornerback will give Gus Bradley a strength at the corner position. Indianapolis also added Yannick Ngakoue in a trade with the Raiders, increasing the talent on their defensive line.
The Colts ranked ninth-best in points scored and points allowed in 2021, and the team looks to have only improved its roster. Another player who helps this case is Alec Pierce. The second-round selection is thought to be a strong fit in Indianapolis according to 33rd Team contributor Greg Cosell. Despite falling just shy of double-digit wins in 2021, exceeding last season’s win total is a plausible goal for this year.
Prediction: Over 9.5 wins
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 4.5 wins
2021 Record: 4-13
When assessing the Texans’ roster, one player that stands out is Brandin Cooks. The former Oregon State Beaver has been a productive player since entering the league, posting 1,000 receiving yards every season in which he’s played in its entirety. Outside of Cooks, the Texans don’t appear to have significant NFL production from their projected starters.
Laremy Tunsil is an exception to this thought, being named to two Pro Bowls in his career. QB Davis Mills did exceed his rookie expectations, tying Peyton Manning and Warren Moon for the sixth-most 300-yard games as a rookie with four; however, all four of these contests ended in losses for Houston.
In the 2022 NFL Draft, the team drafted Derek Stingley Jr. with the third-overall pick, 11 spots higher than The 33rd Team’s ranking. Although he should contribute as a rookie, injuries have plagued the newest Texans’ corner, and adjusting to the NFL could take time.
Stingley Jr. hopes to upgrade a Houston defense that ranked 31st in yards allowed. Combining that with the 32nd ranked offense in total yards, the Texans will need to improve on both sides of the ball to increase their win total.
Houston has only won four games in each of the last two seasons, meaning the over of their win projection would be an advancement. The Texans may not be able to exceed this number in 2022, but a glimmer of hope is they’ve been able to avoid finishing last in their division both of the past two seasons.
Prediction: Under 4.5 wins
Caesars Sportsbook Over/Under Projection: 6.5 wins
2021 Record: 3-14
The team that has finished last in each of the last two seasons is the Jaguars. This is only half of the story, as Jacksonville has placed fourth in the AFC South in each of the last four seasons. Following a turbulent 2021 campaign, the team should find stability and leadership from Doug Pederson.
Coach Pederson worked with The 33rd Team before being named the next head coach of the Jaguars, demonstrating his high character and philosophy on building a winning quarterback group.
Jacksonville added talent this offseason, including Christian Kirk, Brandon Scherff, Foye Oluokun, Evan Engram, Darious Williams, Foley Fatukasi, and Zay Jones. With the first overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Jaguars chose Georgia’s Travon Walker. Although a talented player without a doubt, The 33rd Team didn’t have Walker ranked in the top 35 prospects.
All of these players should have important roles with the Jaguars this season, but the team had numerous position groups with question marks as the 2021 season concluded.
Since 2011, the team has topped the over/under projection of 6.5 wins just once. Being able to win more than twice last season’s total appears a bit ambitious despite the team’s changes.