AFC South betting preview: Tennessee is going all-in
The 2021 NFL season is nearly upon us. To get you primed for pro football, let’s break down what to expect from each team in the AFC South.
AFC South 2021/2022
Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM
2020 record: 11-5
Key additions: WR Julio Jones, Edge Bud Dupree, CB Janoris Jenkins
Key departures: TE Jonnu Smith, CB Malcolm Butler, Edge Jadeveon Clowney
After a surprising run to the AFC Championship Game in 2019 from a wild card spot, the Titans followed up in 2020 with an impressive regular season to win the AFC South. However, the tables were turned when they fell to the Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson in the Wild Card Round.
Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown both made the Pro-Bowl for an offense that ranked fourth in the league in scoring at 30.7 points per game. Henry became just the eighth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards. The NFL Offensive Player of the Year will look to repeat with another massive season behind a solid offensive line with the return of Taylor Lewan.
Even though the Titans lost Jonnu Smith and Corey Davis, it was still a net positive with the additions of Julio Jones and Josh Reynolds. Admittedly, Jones has not been the superstar wideout he was in his prime years in Atlanta recently, but he is still a stud, and pairing him with Brown should be deadly to opposing defensive backfields.
The defense struggled mightily last year as they ranked 24th in points allowed, 28th in yards allowed, and only compiled 19 sacks (30th in the league). The Titans went hard in the free agency market to try and fix these defensive woes with the additions of Bud Dupree and Janoris Jenkins.
All these additions should keep the Titans in contention in the AFC, but may not be enough to run away with the division.
2020 record: 11-5
Key additions: QB Carson Wentz, OT Eric Fisher, Edge Kwity Paye
Key departures: QB Philip Rivers, OT Anthony Costanzo, LB Anthony Walker
The Colts almost pulled off an upset in the Wild Card Round last year over the Buffalo Bills, but ultimately came up short. The regular season found them again just short of winning the division. Indy has not won the AFC South since 2014.
After Philip Rivers retired, the Colts decided to let Jacoby Brissett leave in free agency and signed the oft-injured Carson Wentz to take over the starting job. Unfortunately, Wentz is already injured and will miss up to seven weeks to begin the regular season.
Anthony Costanzo also retired, and the Colts went out and signed a few tackles including Eric Fisher, who also has some injury concerns. Then, Quenton Nelson went down with an injury with a similar timeline to Wentz.
Indianapolis was in the top half of just about every offensive category last season, but they did not make the adjustments to really put them over the top. The receiving core is still a big question mark, and the injuries are starting to pile up in key positions.
Depth in the front seven will be the Colts' biggest weakness, and ultimately could be their downfall.
2020 record: 1-15
Key additions: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, CB Shaquill Griffin
Key departures: WR Keelan Cole
There's nowhere to go but up for Jacksonville after a terrible season last year. The Jags parlayed their miserable 1-15 record into a franchise-changing quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and snagged an All-American running back in Travis Etienne.
The Jaguars also bolstered a mediocre secondary with the signing of Shaquille Griffin from Seattle, who had three interceptions last season. The defense also returns some key players that include Josh Allen, Myles Jack, and CJ Henderson.
It's unlikely that Jacksonville will compete for this division title, but it will be interesting to see what Lawrence can do with some good skill players around him right off the bat.
2020 record: 4-12
Key additions: RB Mark Ingram, Edge Shaq Lawson, WR Nico Collins
Key departures: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller, C Nick Martin
The Texans are coming off a rough season and it's likely only to get rougher. Their star franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has been through a ton of turmoil off the field. He wants out, and it's unclear if the Texans truly want him back.
The Texans also lost their top receiver in Will Fuller and the former face of the franchise on the defensive end in J.J. Watt. While they brought in a massive haul through free agency and the draft, it was mostly quantity over quality. They added players in positions that were not necessarily positions of need and the offensive line will be very inexperienced playing together.
Even if Watson rises to the occasion, the Texans are not good enough to come close to competing for the AFC South division title.