As a reminder, the two key factors in developing win totals at this point in the year are 1) these numbers are entirely derived off of the full 2018 season data and my power ratings and 2) these are being published well before the NFL actually releases the full schedule. Right now we know each team’s opponents – home and away – we just don’t know the order or the dates of the games. Creating these now is a pretty good baseline for the 2019 numbers.
In 2019 the AFC South draws the AFC West and NFC South as shared opponents, as well as one team each from the AFC North and the AFC East.
Unlike the AFC East, the South forecasts to be an incredibly competitive division. I have only 2.3 wins separating the first place and fourth place teams in the division. Let’s dive right in to see how the division looks to shake out in 2019!
Indianapolis: 8.7 wins
My numbers have the Colts as pretty decent favorites to win every home game, with their win probabilities ranging from a low of 62.0% as 3.3 faves vs. Houston, to 85.0% as 10.3 point faves at home to Miami.
On the road, it’s a much different story as the Colts appear to have one of the toughest road schedules in the NFL based upon 2018 ratings. The Colts are significant underdogs at the Chargers and Steelers (26.0% as 6.7 point underdogs respectively. Additionally, the Colts face a season-low probability in a return to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs as 8.4 point dogs (20.0% win probability), and only slightly higher in the Superdome to face the Saints as 7.0 point dogs, with a 24.8% win probability.
The other three in-division road games are in the toss-up range, and will likely be the difference between an eight-win and an 11-win season. The Colts will have win probabilities of 52.4% (at the Jags), 50% (at the Titans), and 46.2% (at the Texans).
These home and road forecasts equate to 8.7 wins, and the South Division title by 0.4 games! Obviously, in the real world, teams aren’t awarded decimal point victories, so this division looks to be extremely competitive between the Colts and my second place team, the Texans.
Houston: 8.3 wins
As I alluded to above, I project the Texans to win 8.3 games in 2019. Houston projects to be clear favorites at home over the Jags (72.5%, 2.3 pts) , Titans (67.7%, 4.7 pts), Broncos (66.5%, 4.3 pts), Raiders (80.7%, 9.0 pts), Dolphins (83.5%, 9.8 pts), Falcons (66.0%, 4.1 pts) and Panthers (59.4%, 3.1 pts), while only being a slight favorite over the Colts at home (53.9%, 2.3 pts). This home slate projects to 5.5 wins.
On the road, as with the Colts, it’s a much different story…
The Texans project to be slight faves at Jacksonville (51.3%, 1 pt) and pick’em at Tampa Bay (50%), and only 1 point dogs (48.8%) at Tennessee. Otherwise, it’s a more grim picture, as Houston’s win probabilities range from a low of 19.5% (at K.C. as +8.9 pt dogs) to 37.0% as 3.3 point underdogs at Indy. Add the games at the Chargers, Ravens, and Saints, and the Texans road slate projects to only 2.8 wins, bringing us to the season total of 8.3 wins.
Tennessee: 7.1 wins
Jacksonville: 6.4 wins
The Titans and Jaguars project to be a couple games back of the Texans and Colts at 7.1 and 6.4 wins respectfully.
Tennessee forecasts to win 7.1 games in 2019 by combining a respectable 3.0 road wins with 4.1 wins at home. The Titans have an extremely narrow band of projections at home, ranging from 32.8% (vs. K.C.) to 68.2% (vs. the Bills). The other six games are projected at 67.8% (Jacksonville, -4.7 pt fave), a pick’em 50% at home vs. the Colts, a tight 1 pt fave at 51% vs. the Texans, 35.7% dogs vs. the Chargers as +3.45 pt dogs, and 3.3 pt faves (62.5%) and 3.0 pt home dogs to the Saints (40.6%).
On the road, the Titans have an even narrower band of win probabilities, ranging from a low of 31.6% to 52.5% vs. Indy and Oakland respectively. The other six games project out to 49% at the Jags as 1 pt dogs, 32.4% (+4.7) at Houston, 35.7% (+3.45) at Denver, 32.5% (4.6) at Cleveland, and 37.0% (+3.4) and 32.7% (+4.5) at NFC South foes, Atlanta and Carolina respectively.
Jacksonville only projects to be home favorites three times in 2019; versus Tennessee as 1 pt faves (51.3%), easily favored over the Jets as 5.4 pt faves at 68.8%, and then slight favorites over the Bucs (1.5 pts) with a 52.5% win probability. On the road, it looks pretty ugly, as they’ll see a high-point as at Pick’em (50%) at Oakland while being underdogs everywhere else on the road. The Jags’ win probabilities range from 49% (+1 pt dogs) at the Bengals down to 24.8% as 7.0 point road dogs at the division rival Colts. In totality, the Jags enjoy slightly better matchups on the road than the Texans, as a lower-rated team, so their road win total forecasts only slightly below the Texans 2.8, at 2.8 wins. 2.8 road wins, and 3.6 home wins projects to 6.4 wins in 2019.