AFC South May Be Good, But Titans and Foes Unlikely to Match Peak

AFC SouthNASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Texans are coming off a terrific season and have implied odds of 47.6 percent of winning the division. The Jaguars are heading into Year Two under a Super Bowl-winning coach. The Colts get back a quarterback they chose fourth overall in 2023 but who only started for four games before he got hurt.

There is a lot of promise in the AFC South in 2024, a division that has been the NFL’s worst since it was created in the 2002 realignment with a regular season winning percentage of .478. 

Most of it is based on the quarterbacks. C.J. Stroud is coming off an excellent offensive rookie of the year season. Trevor Lawrence is heading into Year Four and has not living up to billing that came with being the No. 1 overall pick out of Clemson in 2019 but may be due to finally put it together. Anthony Richardson can be electric. Will Levis, while not particularly highly-regarded nationally, has tools that may be well developed by an offensive head coach on a team that’s put in work to improve weaponry and protection.

The sportsbook win total predictions for the four AFC South teams would put the division at 33 wins, one fewer than they collectively had in 2023 but more than they combined for in 10 of the last 12 years.

The schedule isn’t favorable for the division to have a collective breakout year: Over-unders say the AFC East will be two games better than the AFC South and the NFC North will be two games better. The NFC East, which is the 17th-game matchup division is projected to win 34, and has the two teams expected to be the worst of the 12. The Giants and Commanders are each set at 6.5 wins.

The Titans’ division has produced a wild card team in 10 of 22 seasons since 2022’s divisional realignment, or 45 percent of the time, with two wild card teams in the terrific 2007 season when they won 42 games with the Colts going 13-3, the Jaguars 11-5 and the Titans 10-6. They made up half the AFC playoff field but one only one game between them, Jacksonville’s wild-card win in Pittsburgh.

What pulls the current view of the division up is the Colts’ expected win total of 8.5, which is high in my view. But if things hit for the Titans’ their 6.5 could be low. 

I think the division is in the best quarterback shape in memory, and certainly had the most coinciding quarterback potential ever. But it’s not poised for a season like 2007 or even 2008 (Titans 13-3, Colts 12-4 and a wild card, Texans’ eight wins, Jaguars’ five) or 2009 (Colts 14-2, Texans nine wins, Titans eight, Jags seven) when it posted 38 wins. 

But if things stay close to schedule for the four franchises, maybe a three-year streak like that one could come around again sometime soon.

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