NFL odds makers will not be looking passed the Colts in 2008 when it comes to the AFC South.
The Indianapolis Colts have won the South five straight seasons, but as key Colts get older, that will get harder to do. Indy won 13 games last year, but a home playoff loss vs. San Diego ended hopes of a second straight Super Bowl title. The Colts were balanced, ranking 5th in total offense and 3rd in defense. And led by QB Peyton Manning, WRs Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison and RB Joseph Addai, the offense will continue to produce. But Manning (knee) and Harrison (knee), along with DE Dwight Freeney (foot) and S Bob Sanders (shoulder), are all coming off surgery.
The Jacksonville Jaguars went 11-5 and won a playoff game in Pittsburgh last season. The Jaguars also went 11-5 vs. the football betting lines. Jacksonville ranked 2nd in the league in both rushing and time-of-possession, while QB David Garrard posted an 18/3 TD/INT ratio and made several big plays with his legs. The Jags added WR Jerry Porter this offseason, and used their top two draft picks on a couple of pass-rushing DEs. Should Indy falter, Jacksonville looks like the team most likely to take this division.
The Tennessee Titans went 10-6 last year and made the playoffs despite outscoring opponents by a total of four points. They also saw their totals go 5-10-1, as their games averaged just 37 total points. The Titans ranked 21st in total offense, but 5th in rushing, and 5th in total defense. QB Vince Young, despite a career 21/30 TD/INT ratio, is now 17-11 as an NFL starter. The Titans added TE Alge Crumpler over the offseason, and they brought back DE Jevon Kearse to what should again be a solid defensive unit. But Young must improve his passing skills if Tennessee is going to advance further.
The Houston Texans posted their best-ever record last year, going 8-8 in their second season under coach Gary Kubiak. Houston also went 3-0 ATS when home-dogged by the NFL betting lines, even though they averaged less than 100 yards rushing, and ranked 24th in total defense and second-worst in turnovers at -13. First-year starter Matt Schaub was all right at QB, and backup Sage Rosenfels was even better, winning four of five starts in a relief role. But the backfield situation is unsettled, with oft-injured Ahman Green topping the depth chart. And the defense needs to improve. Playing in this division hampers the Texans’ playoff hopes.