We continue our preview of the 2019-29 NFL season by taking a close look at the American Football Conference’s South and East division. The defending Super Bowl champions New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts have been installed as favorites to win their respective divisions.
AFC South Division
The Indianapolis Colts are the third team to make the playoffs after starting the season at 1-5. This happened last year when the Patriots lost five out of their first six games and then went on to win nine out of their last 10 regular season games. After that strong finish, Indianapolis is even primed for a better 2019 considering they didn’t suffer major personnel losses after the season. The Colts also signed wide receiver Devin Funchess and edge rusher Justin Houston and both are expected to make an immediate impact. With Andrew Luck healthy, the Colts have the potential to blossom into one of the NFL’s top teams this season and that’s why they are the top football betting favorites to win the AFC South.
The Houston Texans were the 2018 NFC South division champions and this is not a team that can be overlooked. They have a terrific quarterback in Deshaun Watson, an excellent wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and a fantastic defensive player in J.J.Watt. However, the team lost Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu and their replacements in Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby aren’t as good. Houston’s offensive line allowed a total of 62 sacks last season and if that line struggles this coming season, it could spell trouble for the Texans.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a hard team to analyze. At one point, they were tagged as Super Bowl contenders after a trip to the AFC title game the year before. However, their offense sputtered and their defense failed them. As a result, 2018 was a terrible year for them. The Jaguars made a buzz during the offseason when they acquired Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles, hoping that the quarterback’s leadership is going to turn their team around for the better.
The Tennessee Titans have been on a downward trend in the past two seasons. They made the postseason and won a playoff game in 2017. Then last season, they missed the playoffs in Mike Vrabel’s inaugural coaching season. This year, that downward spiral could continue with quarterback Marcus Mariota struggling to stay healthy. The arrival of QB Ryan Tannehill could also create a quarterback situation which isn’t good.
Prediction: Indianapolis Colts
AFC East Division
|New England Patriots||-500|
|New York Jets||+600|
The defending Super Bowl champions significant losses during the offseason. The New England Patriots lost left tackle Trent Brown and edge rusher Trey Flowers in free agency. Then there was the retirement of tight end Rob Gronkowski who was key to their championship runs. But then this team has been here before and what matters more ( or most ) is that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are back. New England has proved that it can compensate for talent loss. In the recent draft, they addressed their wide receiver need by picking N’Keal Harry with the final pick of Round 1. Unless someone takes them down this season, it’s wrong not to pick the Patriots to win not just this division but at least the AFC as well.
The New York Jets were 4-12 in 2018 which resulted to the firing of Todd Bowles and the hiring of the offensive-minded Adam Gase. Their poor 2018 season also enabled them to get the third pick in the 2019 NFL Draft which they used to select Alabama’s Quinnen Williams who has the potential to make a big difference on defense. Their free agent spree netted tailback Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. Sam Darnold should be better too but I think it will take at least two years before this team starts to contend.
The Buffalo Bills won just six games last season but given the team was run by the young Josh Allen, I think 6-10 was good enough for them. Buffalo spent money in free agency and added wide receivers John Brown and Cole Beasley plus tailbacks Frank Gore and T.J. Yeldon. Top picks Ed Oliver and Cody Ford should make an immediate impact however, they will need more experience to contend for the playoffs.
The Miami Dolphins spent their offseason cutting veterans and clearing cap space, leading to rumors that they could go “tanking” in 2019 with the hopes of securing a high pick in next year’s draft which is rich in quarterback talent. But the Dolphins added Josh Rosen from Arizona and the young quarterback could help fast track their rebuild. Rosen had a terrible rookie season but given his reputation, he could turn out to be a gem for Miami. Like Buffalo, it’s going to take Miami some time to return to prominence.
Prediction: New England Patriots