Last year, I went out on a limb and picked the Colts to win the AFC South. Andrew Luck got hurt and that became almost impossible. The Texans won the division and proceeded to make several changes to their offense. The Jaguars and Titans will be two intriguing teams in 2016 that have bright futures.
Much like I did with the college football win totals, I will break down the schedules in terms of home and road opponents outside the division. In most situations, I'll give a split to each team in divisional play with them winning at home and losing on the road. Vegas is much more on the ball in the NFL compared to college football so the numbers are a lot sharper.
Note: Over/under odds courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbook
(Over 8.5 wins +105, Under 8.5 wins -125)
Record Last Year: 9-7
Offense: Changes abound on this side of the ball as quarterback Brock Osweiler is now the starter after leaving Denver via free agency. Osweiler figures to bring a bigger arm to the position, which should help DeAndre Hopkins, who is now playing for a contract. Running back Lamar Miller also signed as a free agent and figures to get more work than he did with the Dolphins. Jaelen Strong, Will Fuller, Braxton Miller and Cecil Shorts all will compete to start opposite Hopkins out wide.
Defense: J.J. Watt continues to carry the unit after another good season, but he may not be at full strength or even available at the start of the season because of back surgery. Jadeveon Clowney should take a nice jump after finally getting some consistent snaps last year. I really like Jonathan Joseph at corner, who makes a nice tandem with Kareem Jackson. The names are pretty much the same from last year, so the group should be very good once again.
Schedule: For the second straight season, the Texans have a Week 9 bye. The road will be a very tough place for Houston, which has to play at New England, Minnesota, Denver and Green Bay. That said, the Texans should run through the home slate because there aren't too many challenges there.
Prediction: I like the over here although I'm concerned about all the new pieces on offense. I think Bill O'Brien brings it all together and this squad is in the mix for the division championship. The defense should be good and home field will make the difference.< /p>
(Over 9 wins +103, Under 9 wins -123)
Record Last Year: 8-8
Offense: It was a down year for Indy, but Andrew Luck being out contributed to that. If Luck can stay healthy, he'll return to prominence with a WR group that includes T.Y. Hilton, Philip Dorsett and Donte Moncrief. The questions are on the offensive line, which struggled at times keeping the QBs upright. Frank Gore is back at RB, but he's 33 and older than that in running back years.
Defense: The defense continues to make changes and bring over new talent. Robert Mathis has played 178 games in Indianapolis, but he needs some help around him. Vontae Davis is a very good corner, but Patrick Robinson is vulnerable on the other side.
Schedule: The Colts have a Week 10 bye and some tough road games as well playing at Green Bay and Denver relatively early on. Down the stretch they play at Minnesota and Oakland in a six-day span. This offense could start fast with home matchups against Detroit, San Diego and Chicago in the first five weeks.
Prediction: Small lean to the under. I think the defense holds this team back from winning the division. Yes, the Colts’ offense, when healthy, can keep up with anyone. I'm just not convinced that Luck will stay upright behind that offensive line.
(Over 7.5 wins -110, Under 7.5 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 5-11
Offense: Allen Robinson was a revelation last year as he took a step closer to becoming an elite wide receiver. Allen Hurns is a nice complementary target too as long as Blake Bortles continues his improvement. The team brought over Chris Ivory to share the carries with T.J. Yeldon, which was a bit of a head-scratching move considering Yeldon needs all the work he can get.
Defense: Young athletes dominate this side of the ball with Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey joining Dante Fowler Jr., who is technically in his rookie year as well after getting hurt in minicamp last season. I think the signings of Malik Jackson and Prince Amukamara were solid as well. This defense will be fierce in 2017, but will the unit come together this season?
Schedule: The good news for the Jags is that three of their first four are at home, but the bad news is that those games are against the Packers, Ravens and Colts. Five of the team's next seven games are on the road before coming home to play the Broncos and Vikings.
Prediction: I don't know how I feel about the Jags. Their toughest games are at home, which will be a test of these fans to pack the house and make things tough. I think this team is a year away still. If you make me lean either way, then it's very slight to the under.
(Over 6 wins -120, Under 6 wins -110)
Record Last Year: 3-13
Offense: DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry form a solid duo in the backfield, which should help take pressure off of Marcus Mariota. The former Oregon QB was solid for the most part last year and he will have to make due with a patchwork WR corps. Harry Douglas and Andre Johnson are the veterans to go along with Tajae Sharpe, who was a star at UMass. Tight end Delanie Walker was very busy last year.
Defense: I like the group of linebackers even more since former Bronco Wesley Woodyard signed on as a free agent. The secondary is still a concern for me especially at safety although newcomers Rashad Johnson and Da'Norris Searcy will help out.
Schedule: The Titans don’t get their bye until Week 13, but they also have one of the rare three straight at home stretches. Their road slate is not that bad as Minnesota, Green Bay and Denver all come to Tennessee.
Prediction: I think the under is the play here. The Titans are a work in progress especially with an offense that needs to find more consistency. I don't think the defense is there yet, so this seems like a five-win team to me.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.