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2009 AFC South Lines / NFL Preview

NFL Division Preview – AFC South

In our quest to be the ONLINE LEADER in NFL Gambling & NFL Handicapping information we’re way out ahead of the rest with our 2009 Divisional Previews for all 8 NFL divisions.

We will be covering the entire off season for each team and giving you a preview of the upcoming 2009 season with updates from now through kickoff of Week 1 of the NFL 2009/10 Season.

Football betting fans need look no further than the AFC South to realize that it’s never too early to start your NFL homework. There’s simply no easy-to-beat team in this division. We know what the Colts can do, the Titans dominated last season and the Texans and jaguars both have plenty of potential to bust out.

Let’s try to handicap what should be among the NFL’s toughest divisions.

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

Odds to win the AFC South: -120

The Colts are the one constant in an otherwise unpredictable division. Somehow, they flew under the radar last year despite winning nine straight games to end the regular season. Was it because Peyton Manning didn’t challenge any passing records? If so, that would hardly be fair, as he won the NFL MVP award. He and the Colts’ passing attack are like clockwork; Manning will get his 4,000-plus yards and 25-plus touchdowns. Dallas Clark has emerged as a strong red zone threat at tight end and Reggie Wayne should bounce back. If Indy gets more from Anthony Gonzalez, the passing game should rebound from a season in which it fell out of the top four in yards and touchdowns.

The running game has to improve. Joseph Addai’s pass-catching and blocking were supposed to suit Indy’s offense, but his lack of toughness is trying the Colts’ patience. Indy drafted Donald Brown in the first round and he looks like a tougher Addai clone, so he could steal carries.

For a run-and-gun team, the Colts’ defense (like Brock Lesnar’s in the UFC 100 odds) is much better than many bettors think, having allowed the seventh-fewest points per game last season. The run “D” ranked 15th last year and should be better with second-round pick Fili Moala plugging holes, while the pass defense forces turnovers.

Make no mistake: Tony Dungy or not, the Colts are still the class of the AFC South.

TENNESSEE TITANS

Odds to win the AFC South: +325

Were it not for a suspect passing game, way more NFL predictions would put the Titans at the Colts’ level. Kerry Collins was a revelation last year, but he’s older than your grandparents and he still lacks a go-to receiver, with apologies to free-agent signing Nate Washington.

The Titans’ running game is a site to behold, with blindingly fast Chris Johnson joining bulldozer LenDale White to form one of the top rushing tandems in the NFL. The Titans do a great job mixing up the workload depending on their matchup, so they’ll run wild on defenses again.

The Titans’ “D” excelled last year, allowing the second-fewest points, but it will take a step back this year. Gone are stud defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and defensive co-ordinator Jim Schwartz. Drafting Sen’Derrick Marks will help fill the D-line void but may not pay dividends right away.

The Titans will still contend, but they’re a flawed team and should regress to 10 or so wins.

HOUSTON TEXANS

Odds to win the AFC South: +350

Oh, how the Texans tease us. They always play well late in the year when games don’t matter, screwing up our betting software numbers and making us think they’re better than they are. When will they finally break through?

I have to say, I like how Houston’s offense is growing. Andre Johnson is arguably a top-two NFL wideout and dominates even with guys draped on him. Steve Slaton is a versatile scat-back who proved he can handle a starter’s workload and Matt Schaub is a prolific passer when healthy, which is rarely.

Aside from standout defensive end Mario Williams (Reggie who?), the Texans’ D remains an Achilles Heel, but they did draft several future key contributors in the offseason and should improve gradually.

The playoffs are still a longshot but a winning season seems entirely possible for Houston in 2009.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS

Odds to win the AFC South: +475

With their talent, they can’t be that bad again, right? The Jags were among 2008’s biggest online wagering busts. Their once-ferocious defense grew soft and really missed Marcus Stroud up the middle. The O-line also opened up way fewer holes for the formerly dominant running game and uber-accurate David Garrard threw more picks in 2008 than he had in 2006 and 2007 combined.

Can Jacksonville remedy last year’s problems? Yes in some areas, no in others. Based on his career numbers, Garrard should play better. He’ll have more protection too, as the Jags spent draft picks on O-linemen. However, he still lacks a true No. 1 receiver, as future Hall-of-Famer Torry Holt is past his prime. Thankfully, Maurice-Jones Drew should help the Jags score more. He’ll get his long-awaited chance to start and the human bowling ball should flourish getting 20 carries a game.

The Jags should inch closer to .500 this season but they didn’t improve their defense enough to make the playoffs.

2009 AFC South Prediction

As well as the Titans played last season, it’s still the Colts ahead of the pack. They’re a more complete team and they didn’t lose as many important pieces in the offseason. Bet on Indy to win.

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