Week 1 did not turn out all that great for the AFC South, with the division going 1-3. The issue for the division as a whole is that there were no divisional matchups in week 1. This division is going to be so tough that teams need to win matches out their division if they want to get that advantage over other teams. It may just be the first week but winning you first game has a decent impact on your chance of making the playoffs. Teams that start 1-0 have a 51% of making the playoffs according to fivethirtyeight.com. In comparison teams that start 0-1 make the playoffs just 25% of the time.
Things get much worse for the Titans, Texans and Colts if they lose again this week as they will have just a 10% chance of making the playoffs, based on their record. As a contrast, a loss for the Jaguars would see them still have a 41% chance to make the playoffs. Winning those week 1 games is not vital but it does matter.
Houston Texans @ Tennessee Titans
This could be a battle of the bad offensive lines. Both teams have major troubles with that unit and which defense can capitalise the most could decide this game. Both the quarterbacks in this game are young guys who need to be given as mush time as possible to make plays. We saw last week how Deshaun Watson struggled early as the Patriots were able to get after him and keep him under pressure constantly. In addition, Marcus Mariota comes into the game banged up and will need as much protection as possible if he is to play the full game.
Where Tennessee might have the edge is the home field advantage, Mariota will be able to use his snap count to try and slow the Texans pass rush. However, what is perhaps more crucial is for both teams to get their run game going, as a good run game can also prevent pass rushes being effective. The Texans edge comes with their pass rush being better than the Titans by a fairly considerable distance. The Titans are going to need to do everything to slow them down.
With Mariota playing I like the Titans getting points at home. However, if we see a lot of Blaine Gabbert then that bet could look super ugly super fast. I might stay away from this game due to the uncertainty
Indianapolis Colts @ Washington Redskins
The Colts will have spent the week ruing the fact they did not take their chances. Andrew Luck threw a red-zone interception and Jack Doyle fumbled in Bengals territory to ultimately end the game. This week they face a tough test in the Washington Redskins, who had their way with the Arizona Cardinals last week. The Colts should give the Redskins more trouble and allow us to see who Washington really are this season.
With Luck playing this team will always have a chances, despite a poor running game and below-average defense. The Colts should be able to keep this game close and I would not bet against them having a drive to win the game or take the lead deep into the fourth quarter. With the Colts getting up to six points in some places I would look to back them to keep this within a couple of points and maybe even sneak out with a shock win.
Jacksonville Jaguars vs New England Patriots
A rematch of last years AFC conference championship should be super exciting. However, I worry we may see quite bland football from both sides. Week 2 is too early for teams to really show their cards and that could lead to a dull game. The Patriots will be conscious of the Jaguars pass rush and the damage it could do to Tom Brady if it gets to him regularly. That should mean the Patriots do plenty to get the ball out of Brady’s hands, or at least make sure he is getting rid of it quickly.
On the Jaguars side of the ball their offense is going to depend on Leonard Fournette. My instinct is he will not play and if he does he will be extremely limited. If he is unavailable or limited then T.J. Yeldon will be the man in the backfield. The Patriots will never admit it but they will breathe a huge sigh of relief if that is the case. The Jags will likely still lean on the run game as a heavy dose of Blake Bortles is not the way to win a football game in the NFL. There is so much that could affect this game that despite it basically being a pick in some places I am staying away from it this week.
Houston Texans -3 @ Tennessee Titans – No bet
Indianapolis Colts +6 @ Washington Redskin – Colts
Jacksonville Jaguars +1 vs New England Patriots – No bet
Image credit: Mark Zaleski/AP