AFC South over/under win totals and prop bets

Thursday, 29 August 2019 18:07 EST

Well, that didn’t exactly help NFLbets get off to a great start to the 2019 NFL season – maybe three days after we stated we’d be covering the Indianapolis Colts as a longshot to win Super Bowl LIV and/or at least the AFC, Andrew Luck had to go and consider the state of his personal health. One surprise retirement later, the Colts offense has gone from a top-10 QB at the controls to a triad of whodats.

Said no-namers include prospective starter Jacoby Brissett, 5-12 SU lifetime and taker of an NFL-“leading” 52 sacks in 2017; Phillip Walker, a 5’10” dude who’s been on the Indianapolis practice roster for nearly 2½ years; and Chad Kelly, who has taken exactly one snap in the NFL – a kneeldown for the Broncos last season.

Sure, NFLbets has heard of Kurt Warner and the 1999 St. Louis Rams – but we also recall the case of Matt Cassel and the 2008 New England Patriots. And let’s just say the 2019 Colts were never going to be the ’99 Rams and aren’t exactly the defending AFC champions coming off an 18-1 year. There’s a reason the over/under on Colts wins went from 10½ to 6½ in minutes, leaving the table for the NFC South looking thusly:

AFC South O/U wins to win division to win Super Bowl (current)
Houston Texans +110 18/1
Jacksonville Jaguars 8 5/2 25/1
Tennessee Titans 8 7/2 50/1
Indianapolis Colts 6½-7½ 5/1 50/1

Again is NFLbets reminded that essentially we ended up getting 18/1 odds on a 50/1 longshot in covering the Colts to win Super Bowl LIV. And here’s actual footage of Os Davis contemplating his sure-t0-lose ticket after Luck’s retirement.

But hey, let’s be optimistic and believe moneys may be made here.

Houston Texans: Once again we’re on the bandwagon
Another year, another too-low line on over/under wins for the Texans. And once again, NFLbets is on a surprisingly spacious bandwagon going into a season; for 2018, we covered the Texans to win the AFC South (at +100 payout) as well as over 8½ (!) wins.

NFLbets thought those were no-brainers then, leaving us to wonder what has changed for 2019, and where to seek this evidence is obvious: The offensive line remains a serious woe for the Texans – not to mention DeShaun Watson. Watson somehow played every snap as quarterback for Houston in ’18 despite taking 62 sacks for a sack-ratio of an absolutely insane 10.9%. Yet somehow, Watson still managed a 68.3% completion rate to go with 26 touchdowns against just 9 interceptions, while Demaryius Thomas exited the scene early and DeAndre Hopkins caught exactly one-third of all passes for the season.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but the 2019 Houston Texans boasted a statistically top-10 rushing offense, a defense that was top-5 against scoring and rushing, and the top special-teams units in the league. In normal circumstances, this is damn near a complete résumé for a conference champion if not a serious Super Bowl contender…

But that line ranked 27th overall in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and – total shocker here – dead last in pass protection.

So have things improved for 2019? Wellllllllllllllll…

Lamar Miller has already been lost for the season and will be replaced by Cleveland Browns tradeaway Duke Johnson. And any improvement on the offense is likely to depend on two guys who spent the entirety of 2018 on IR: WR Will Fuller and LT Matt Kalil, the latter of whom was picked up by Houston after getting waived by the Carolina Panthers. As of today (Wednesday, August 28), the rumor mill has the Texans shipping JaDeveon Clowney to Miami, only the Dolphins won’t give up starting LT Laremy Tunsil. Why angle for another LT when you’ve already signed a veteran player? That question kinda answers itself.

And speaking of losing Clowney, a few holes are appearing in that badass Texans D of 2018: FS Tyrann Mathieu and CB Kareem Jackson were wooed away on a combined $75 million worth of contracts. The Houston front office is clearly hoping the relative bargains in FS Tashaun Gipson ($22.5 mil for 3 yards) and CB Bradley Roby (1 year at $10 mil) can fill these gaps, but are probably secretly considering these moves a bit of a comedown.

At this point, 11 wins seems something of a stretch for the Texans, but a fortuitous draw of AFC West and NFC South teams means a good six wins to pencil in for Houston already: vs Carolina, vs Atlanta, vs Oakland, vs Denver and at Tampa Bay. Going just 3-3 against the division – in 2018, they were 4-2 against the AFC South but this year play the Jaguars in London; usually a tough play for the visitors – gets Houston to nine wins and shazam, there’s your over. So yeah, NFLbets says take the Texans over 8½ wins in 2019.

Jaguars, Titans, Colts: Too many quarterback questions for confident betting
With the lines set at My Bookie sportsbook the way they are above, the oddsmakers are essentially reckoning all four AFC South teams to be .500 clubs. On that basis, it’s verrrrrrrrrry tempting to cover the under for Jacksonville, Tennessee and Indianapolis win totals (especially if you can get under 7½ on the Colts). To NFLbets, that seems like a decent enough bet, as two of these three feel incredibly likely to go under 8-8 in the AFC’s weakest division.

Thanks to Luck’s decision, betting on the Colts for a few weeks must be considered an absolute no-no. Before doing anything other than betting under 7½ wins, get some data, i.e. watch games, on these guys and their Luck-less offense.

As for the Jaguars, well, remember when they were went 10-6, set a franchise record for points in a season (417, or 26.1 per game) and played the Patriots in the AFC championship game? That was two seasons ago and apparently a division-winner’s schedule was enough to bring the Jags back down to Earth for 2018, bringing them back to their losing ways.

This offseason, Jacksonville management went and picked up savior-for-hire Nick Foles. Now maybe Foles will work his magic in Florida/the UK, but will adding RB Alfred Blue and WR Chris Conley really be enough to juice up an offense that managed just 22 offensive TDs all last year? They’ll be replacing WR Donte Moncrief, RB T.J. Yeldon and RB Carlos Hyde, incidentally, a trio “good” for a combined eight TDs in ’18.

Finally, the Tennessee Titans have been enigmatic, seemingly perpetually hanging near .500, sometimes making the playoffs at 8-8, sometimes not, never quite meeting expectations…

NFLbets believes no reason exists to believe in success for the Titans in 2019 beyond that even-steven mark once again – no dummies, the bookmakers setting this over/under win line at exactly 8. Joining an already top-10 defense is DE Cameron Wake, who might have something in the tank left at 37 and coming off his statistically worst season since his rookie year; speaking (writing?) of rookies, fourth-round pick S/CB Amani Hooker has been getting good buzz, but it’s damn difficult to quantify rookies for betting’s sake.

OG Roger Saffold and WR Adam Humphries also cashed in with the Titans during free agency for probably well above their worth – come on, $11 million this year for Saffold on the basis of essentially one above-average season? – but NFLbets sure isn’t sure these adds are enough to help a seriously low-watt offense that placed bottom-5 in passing TDs and yards while finishing no. 22 overall in offensive scoring. If any AFC South team’s stats alone lead us to believe a sub-.500 record is in store, it’s the Titans’.

In the final analysis, then, we’re running with our original contention: Take the under on wins props for the Jaguars, Colts and Titans – we’re telling ya, two of three’ll come in.