AFC South Odds & Predictions: Matty Nice!

Matt Ryan Atlanta Falcons 2021

Look at the AFC South odds today, and you’ll see a whole new world compared to this time last month.

Then the Tennessee Titans remained the class of a pretty weak division, while the Indianapolis Colts were without a franchise QB after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders. We loved Indy cutting ties with Wentz, we just worried about who was gonna replace him. Or if anybody was gonna replace him.

We watched all the big-name QBs either get traded (Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson) or re-sign with existing teams (Aaron Rodgers) and all the while the Colts stood pat.

Then though, with one of the final QB chips to fall, the Colts pulled off a trade to acquire Ryan from the Falcons. The price was a steal too – just a third-round pick, less than Indy picked up for ditching Wentz.

That trade changed everything in the AFC South and the odds reflect it = big-time. Here is where everything stands as we get to the later stages of free agency and closer to the 2022 NFL Draft.

AFC South Odds for 2022

That Ryan trade changed the world in the AFC South. Tennessee went from being strongly favored in the betting odds to being very much second best. Indy is now trading as favorite with Ryan under center. Latest odds are:

  • -105 Indianapolis Colts (FanDuel)
  • +175 Tennessee Titans (DraftKings)
  • +700 Jacksonville Jaguars (Widely available)
  • +3000 Houston Texans (DraftKings, PointsBet)

NB: Odds correct on June 11, 2022

AFC South Predictions for 2022

Okay so going into the offsesason Tennessee clearly had the upper hand in the South, but two key moves have changed all that.

  • Indianapolis trading away Carson Wentz and replacing him with Ryan – huuuuuuge upgrade.
  • Tennessee trading away A.J. Brown and replacing him with rookie Treylon Burks. Questionable.

The Colts have had a roster built to contend for a couple of years now, they just haven’t had the QB to lead them to the promised land. Ryan, just maybe, might be the man.

We still have some question marks around the Colts receiving corps but isn’t it on Matty Ice to elevate them to another level?

When the Titans decided to traded Brown to the Eagles on Draft day it was unsurprising in one way – they clearly didn’t want to pay him big bucks and figured replacing him with four years of ‘cheap’ rookie labor was a good play.

The issue we have with that move is that while Arkansas standout Burks may be a superstar in the pros one day, he is rough around the edges and the college role he played will in no way prepare him for the NFL. This will take time, and that doesn’t help the Titans this year.

There are also question marks around Ryan Tannehill – still. Can he really be the guy to help Tennessee to go from being superbly coached overachivers to bona fide Super Bowl contenders? The decision to draft Malik Willis in Round 3 suggests the Titans are not sure of the answer either.

The safest bet right now is to take Indy at -105, if you got them at +120 before the Draft, good work.

Our other bet centers on the Jacksonville Jaguars – a train wreck in 2021 under the shambolic Urban Meyer and slated to be much much better in 2022.

The hire of Doug Pederson at HC should not only inject some professionalism into the building, it should speed the development of QB Trevor Lawrence. That alone could catapult this team to way better things.

We didn’t love some of the moves the Jags made in free agency, or the price they paid. But there is a premium to be paid to get players to move to Jacksonville right now.

While the Jags do not appear ready to content yet for an AFC South title – maybe that comes in 2023 – they should take a step forward. The line of 6.5 regular-season wins looks beatable so take the OVER.

OddsCritic Predictions & Best Bets

  • Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South at -105 (FanDuel)
  • Jacksonville Jaguars to have OVER 6.5 regular-season wins at +100 (PointsBet)

Offseason moves: Free agency and trades

Tennessee Titans: While the AFC arms race has gone crazy this offseason, Tennessee has pretty much stood pat. The Titans reportedly had interest in Aaron Rodgers before he committed to the Packers, so it’s Ryan Tannehill again at QB in 2022. Tannehill will have a new WR to throw to as well after the Titans traded a sixth-round pick to the Rams for Robert Woods. That price was partly down to the fact Woods was coming off an ACL tear late last season but if he’s healthy for the start of 2022 we love the deal – we’ll take him over the always-injured Julio Jones. Derrick Henry should be back to full health to key that powerful ground game, though Tennessee did lose guard Rodger Saffold to Super Bowl favorite Buffalo. The big defensive move made by the Titans was to keep one of their own – but we are not convinced giving edge rusher Harold Landry $87.5million over five years was particularly smart. His numbers at top level are good, but delve deeper and they do not affect games enough. Definitely not to the tune of $17.5million APY. The Titans made another big move on Draft day – and it did not impress many judges. They traded superstar A.J. Brown to Philadelphia and replaced him with first-rounder Treylon Burks out of Arkansas. We’ll find out at the start of 2023 whether they are geniuses, or mugs.

Indianapolis Colts: Indy has been ‘swinging at the fences’ regularly to find a franchise QB, as GM Chris Ballard likes to say. With Philip Rivers retired and the Carson Wentz experiment ending in failure, Matt Ryan is next man up. The 36-year-old former league MVP gives Indy an intriguing upgrade at the game’s most important position and changes the entire dynamic of the division. The challenge for Indy now (which didn’t have a first-round pick in 2022, that went on Wentz) is to put the right pieces around Ryan. The OL, which anchors a stellar ground game led by RB Jonathan Taylor, needs attention with LT Eric Fisher still on the open market and RG Mark Glowinski signing with the Giants. Receiver is another area where upgrades are seriously needed – Indy was already weak at the position before Zach Pascal flew away to Philly while T.Y. Hilton remains unsigned. On defense the Colts traded for Raiders edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue and in return gave up corner Rock Ya-Sin. The Draft brought some promising moves, despite the lack of a first-round pick. We were delighted to see Indy use its first two picks on pass catchers – Cincinnati WR Alec Pierce in Round 2 and Virginia TE Jelani Woods in Round 3. The choice of Central Michigan OT Bernhard Raimann in Round 3 was also a terrific pickup.

Jacksonville Jaguars: It is difficult to argue the Jags have not improved their roster this offseason after that shambolic 2021 season under Urban Meyer (until he was fired). What they might regret at some stage in the future is the price of those upgrades. It looks like the Jags have to pay players a premium to get them to come to Jacksonville – either that or they are really bad at math. The poster boy was the $72million over four years handed to Arizona WR Christian Kirk. Intriguing talent yes, but so far only a WR2 at best = horrible deal. The move to acquire Washington RG Brandon Scherff was also expensive, but protecting QB Trevor Lawrence should be priority #1 as he enters his second year as a pro. Rams CB Darious Williams and Giants TE Evan Engram also got big money to take their talents to Florida. We are much bigger fans of the move to acquire San Francisco edge rusher Arden Key in the second wave of free agency – he was a force down the stretch in 2021. Now the Jags have the first pick in the 2022 Draft and the smart money early was that it would take an offensive tackle. The decision to franchise existing LT Cam Robinson flipped that dynamic though, and now the Jags are expecting to go for Michigan DE Aidan Hutchinson. New HC Doug Pederson should provide a much more stable environment for Lawrence to develop, and we like the fact moves have been made. The Draft was guaranteed to bring in some pretty nice reinforcements given the Jags were picking first. Taking Georgia DE Travon Walker at #1 overall was something of a gamble though – he is an absolute athletic freak but has yet to produce at that type of level on the field. Trading up to get Utah LB Devin Lloyd with a second first-rounder was fantastic value – he should be a defensive cornerstone for years to come. Protecting Lawrence will be key in 2022, so the choice of Kentucky C Luke Fortner in Round 3 should help solidify the offensive line.

Houston Texans: So for a year we’ve been wondering what the Houston plan is, now we can start to find out. The Texans had to wait a long time before they could trade Deshaun Watson once it was clear he would not be criminally indicted over sexual misconduct allegations. Now, with Watson heading to Cleveland, Houston can start to rebuild with a ton of draft capital to play with. It seems likely Davis Mills will get a chance to prove he is the answer at QB in 2022, but if not the Texans will be in a great position to capitalize on a better QB draft class in 2023. The moves Houston made in free agency suggested the draft was always the big focus – a string of bargain basement signings had nobody’s pulses races in the great state of Texas. The big departure aside from Watson was safety Justin Reid moving over to Kansas City. The Texans had four picks in the first 44 selections of the NFL Draft, and we like what they did. LSU CB Derek Stingley Jr and Texas A&M G Kenyon Green should be cornerstones for a long time while Baylor S Jalen Pitre adds further talent to the secondary. We also loved the selection of Alabama WR John Metchie at 44 overall. Houston will be better – but still a year or two away.

AFC South Schedules for 2022

We now know when the games will be played on the 2022 schedule, and which teams have the toughest schedules. Here are their 2022 opponents:

Tennessee Titans

Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants

Road: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team

Indianapolis Colts

Home: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Football Team

Road: Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, New England Patriots

Houston Texans

Home: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team

Road: Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Miami Dolphins, New York Giants

Jacksonville Jaguars

Home: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Giants

Road: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team

How many Super Bowls has the AFC South won?

Just the two – and both of them by the Colts. One when the franchise was in Baltimore (Super Bowl V) and then Peyton Manning finally getting a ring in Miami after that win over the Bears in early 2007.

What are the tiebreakers in the AFC South?

*Head-to-head record
* Best division record
* Best record in common games.
* Best conference record
* Strength of victory in all games.
* Strength of schedule in all games
* Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
* Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed in all games.
* Best net points in common games.
* Best net points in all games.
* Best net touchdowns in all games.
* Coin toss

Who is favored to win the AFC South in 2022?

Right now it’s the Colts at -105 with Tennessee at +175, but that is so close one injury or signing could flip the favorite.