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AFC South Preview
by ASA - 08/02/2018
Indianapolis Colts – 2017 record (4-12) – ATS Record (8-8) / Over/Under Record (6-10)
· Yards Per Game Differential -83 / Yards Per Play Differential -1.1
· Point Differential -141 (15th in the AFC / 30th in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential +5 (12th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 6.5 Wins for the Indianapolis Colts
With the status of QB Andrew Luck up in the air, we have to side with the under on the Colts. As of this writing in May, Luck hasn’t even really started to throw yet. Counting on Luck to play at a high level, or even play at all is something we cannot count on. While Luck’s back up Jacoby Brissett showed some promise, the fact is this offense finished dead last in the NFL in YPP and 31st in YPG. Despite finishing with a positive turnover differential (+5) they still finished the year with only 4 wins and the 2nd worst point differential in the AFC. Their defense wasn’t any better as they finished 30th in both YPP allowed and PPG allowed. Seven of their 12 losses came by more than a TD and their wins were not impressive beating a 4 win Houston team twice, Cleveland, and San Francisco (before Garoppolo took over at QB). If Luck isn’t 100%, we don’t see this team improving by 3 games over last season. Under is the play here.
Against The Spread Numbers
· Since 2004 the Colts have the 4th best home spread record in the NFL at 58-42 (57%)
· The Colts were just 6-11-1 ATS vs Division opponents the last 3 seasons. Prior to that they were a nearly unbeatable 15-2-1 ATS (88%) vs the AFC South from 2012 through 2014.
· The Colts have dominated division foe Houston winning 25 of the last 32 meetings including winning both last year.
Houston Texans – 2017 record (4-12) – ATS Record (7-9) – Over/Under Record (7-9)
· Yards Per Game Differential -26 / Yards Per Play Differential -0.7
· Point Differential -98 (13th in the AFC / 29th in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential -12 (28th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 9.5 Wins for the Houston Texans
Very interesting that the Texans won only 4 games last year yet the oddsmakers set this year’s number at 9.5. Too high in our opinion. This number has obviously been set with the anticipation of QB Deshaun Watson coming back at full strength. Watson gave this organization a shot of life in his 6 starts last year before injuring his knee in October. While he was just 3-3 in those starts, his losses came by 3 points @ Seattle (possibly the best home field advantage in the NFL), by 3 points @ New England (Super Bowl participant) and by 8 points at home to KC (won the AFC West). Watson participated in OTA’s in May but was limited. There is no guarantee he will be 100% ready for the start of the season and if he is not, you can bet the Texans will be more than careful with him. Defensively this team struggled after losing JJ Watt allowing 5.7 yards per play was tied for 31st in the NFL ahead of only Tampa Bay. With Watt’s status still up in the air due to last year’s fractured leg, we can’t expect this team to take a huge leap on that side of the ball. A slow start is expected at they are @ New England and @ Tennessee to start the season and 4 of their 8 road games are against playoff teams from last year – including BOTH Super Bowl participants (Pats & Eagles). Too many unknowns injury wise for us to predict this team to hit double digit wins. We like UNER here.
Against The Spread Numbers
· The Texans are just 8-41 SU the last 49 times they’ve been tabbed an underdog of 3 or more. They are just 13-51 SU the last 64 times they’ve been any kind of an underdog. Probably best to lay off Houston on the money line as an underdog.
· Houston has been rolled by division rival Indianapolis losing 25 of the last 32 meetings.
· Since 2003, Houston and Tennessee have gone OVER the total in 20 of their 30 match ups.
TENNESSEE TITANS – 2017 record (9-7) – ATS Record (8-7-1) – Over/Under Record (9-7)
· Yards Per Game Differential -18 / Yards Per Play Differential +0.1
· Point Differential -22 (7th in the AFC / 16th in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential -4 (23rd in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 7.5 Wins for the Tennessee Titans
After finishing .500 or worse every year between 2011 – 2015, the Titans have now finished with back to back 9-7 seasons. However, last year’s overall numbers would not normally equate to a winning record, much less at 9-7 record. The Titans were outgained AND outscored on the season. The offense dropped 42 YPG and 3 PPG from the 2016 season. QB Mariota was banged up all year with ankle, hamstring, and quad problems. That was just a year after he suffered a fractured fibula late in the 2016 season. He’s shown to be a bit fragile and injury prone and we don’t look for that to change this year. That means you can expect Blaine Gabbert and maybe even rookie Luke Falk to get some snaps at some point this season. Let’s face it, Tennessee got a bit lucky last year and squeaked into the playoffs. That was despite losing 5 regular season games to teams that finished .500 or worse. Their wins (minus Jacksonville) came against Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis (twice), Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Seattle. Not ONE of those teams made the playoffs. They must also adjust to a first time head coach (Mike Vrabel) who’s bringing in new offensive and defensive schemes. This team is destined for a 7-9 type season in our opinion.
Against The Spread Numbers
· The Titans are 36-51-3 (41%) in division games (AFC South) since 2003. That’s the 3rd worst ATS mark in the NFL in that category.
· After losing 16 of their previous 17 games vs the Colts, the Titans were able to beat Indy in both games last season.
· Tennessee is just 36-51-1 ATS (41%) as an underdog since the start of the 2008 season. That mark is dead last in the NFL
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – 2017 record (10-6) – ATS Record (9-7) – Over/Under Record (8-8)
· Yards Per Game Differential +59 / Yards Per Play Differential +0.6
· Point Differential +149 (2nd in the AFC / 3rd in the NFL)
· Turnover Differential +10 (5th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play OVER 9.5 Wins for the Jacksonville Jaguars
We’re always wary of teams that are bad for a number of years and then make a big jump for one year. The Jags won only 3 games in 2016 and pushed that to 10 wins last season. Based on the overall numbers it was not a fluke as this team outgained and outscored teams with margins in those two categories among the best in the NFL. Another thing that has us leaning to the OVER is the AFC South is simply a weak division and 6 of their 16 games will come against Indy, Houston, and Tennessee – whom we’ve predicted will ALL go UNDER their season total projections. This defense will again be among the best in the NFL. They were top 3 in YPP allowed and YPG allowed last season. Even the year before when they had only 3 wins, the defense allowed only 321 YPG which was 6th best in the NFL. The offense jumped from 22nd in the NFL to 9th last season and will again be solid. QB Bortles overall passing yardage went down last year, but he was a much better QB hitting a higher completion percentage and a better yards per completion rate. He was better and more confident largely in part to the Jags running game which was tops on the NFL averaging 141 YPG. The addition of RB Fournette (who had over 1,000 yards rushing) had a huge impact on this offense and Bortles in particular. With another solid rushing attack and top notch defense, this team should get to 10 wins again this year.
Against The Spread Numbers
· Between the 2012 – 2016 seasons, the Jags were favored in only 10 games (lost 6 of those outright). Last year alone they were favored 12 times (6-6 ATS)
· Jacksonville is just 28-48-1 ATS (36%) at home since 2008.
· Since 2007, this team is just 12-32 ATS vs the NFC (27%).