Odds To Win AFC South Division: Look Out For The Texans!
Odds to Win the 2014 AFC South:
– Indianapolis Colts -160
– Houston Texans +300
– Tennessee Titans +500
– Jacksonville Jaguars +1400
2014 Over-Under Win Totals:
– Indianapolis Colts Over-Under 9.5 wins
– Houston Texans Over-Under 7.5 wins
– Tennessee Titans Over-Under 7 wins
– Jacksonville Jaguars Over-Under 5 wins
This hasn’t been one a deep division in football over the past few seasons as it’s either been Houston or Indianapolis running away with it. Back in 2012 both of those teams managed to make the post-season, but it was a different story last year as the Colts were the only team from this division to finish above .500. Indy is favored to win this division again, but Tennessee is improved, Jacksonville isn’t going to be an easy push-over like last year, and the Texans are out to prove that last year’s 2-14 season was a fluke and an anomaly. QB concerns will be a part of the season for all of these teams except the Colts, but I do believe at least one of those sub .500 teams from a season ago will get to 8-8 or better in 2014.
Play #1: Houston Texans Over 7.5 wins (-155)
Houston won this division in 2011 and 2012, hosted and won a playoff game in each of those seasons before getting knocked out in the divisional round. They’ve got a new coach, new QB, new hopes for the 2014 season after 2013 was an unmitigated disaster. Houston finished with the worst record in the entire league last year at 2-14 SU but it did earn them the #1 overall draft choice and Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney is an athletic freak and is a huge addition to an already very good defensive line, but it’s all about scoring and the offense for this team this year.
There are some questions concerning WR Andre Johnson and what his status will be once the season starts, but young guys DeAndre Hopkins and DeVier Posey stepped up at times last year and will be asked to do so again this season. Houston still has Arian Foster at RB and he’ll be the workhorse as they’ll be a team that runs the ball first and relies on their defense to close out games.
That’s the style new coach Bill O’Brien used as the head man at Penn State as he;s a guy who will always play to his strengths. When he was the OC at New England he let it fly with Tom Brady and those receivers and at Penn State he concentrated on moving the chains on the ground, taking care of the ball and getting stops. Getting stops is something this defense should be able to do this season with a renewed sense of hope and with stars at every level on defense, Houston will likely be a top-5 defense this season.
When you’ve got a defensive unit like that you’ll win your fair share of games as long as you take care of the ball on offense and don’t turn it over. New QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is an Ivy League graduate who’s been in this league for some time now with varying success. His strengths include reading defenses and setting his unit up with a good play, but the execution can sometimes waiver. He’s the prototypical “game manager” QB and that’s likely all Bill O’Brien will ask him to do. Matt McGloin was a similar guy for the coach at Penn State and although Fitzpatrick isn’t a big name and struggled throwing in windy Buffalo a few seasons back, he’ll be alright. He’s got a stud RB to hand the ball off to when he needs too and big WR’s who can go up and get the ball for him.
Finally, there’s the schedule for the Texans this year and like any team that finished last the previous year it’s rather soft. Gone are the games against the New England’s and Denver’s of the world as they are replaced by contests against Oakland and Buffalo (non-common opponents). Everyone in the AFC South has to go through the AFC North and NFC East which isn’t easy, but Houston will be able to find some wins in there. This finish the season with four of their last six at home and two of their final four against Jacksonville – who will likely have packed it in by then – so the outlook is good for the Texans to be a .500 or better team again. I actually believe they’ve got a great chance to reclaim this division title should Fitzpatrick play within the system and the defense plays as advertised.
To do that eight wins are a must (most likely more) and with redemption the common theme in that Houston locker room this year and a defense that’s ready to hunt down QB’s, over 7.5 wins is one of the stronger win total plays out there this year.
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