In the last installment of the 2023 NFL Win-Loss Projection: AFC West you got an in-depth look at where each of those teams would finish the season and why, along with some key games on their respective schedules. Today we’re going to finish our tour around the AFC and project where each of the AFC “Southies” will finish in the Win/Loss columns. This is the last division that we need to cover in the AFC. There were quite a few bigger stories that impacted the AFC South this offseason, including both the Houston Texans and the Indianapolis Colts each drafting a “franchise” quarterback within the first four picks of the draft. Most recently, the Tennessee Titans signed the biggest Wide Receiver Free Agent in DeAndre Hopkins, and the Jacksonville Jaguars will be getting WR Calvin Ridley back this year to work alongside other dynamic offensive playmakers in Trevor Lawrence, Travis Etienne Jr., Zay Jones, and Evan Engram. Let’s see where they finish in 2023.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 14-3
I saved the AFC South division for last because it’s my favorite prediction. The Jaguars have one of the easiest schedules this year and their Bye Week is right in the middle of the season at Week 9. Their division is not strong at all with the potential of rookie starting quarterbacks in Indianapolis and Houston. They also get to play the NFC South, which may be an even worse division. Their toughest games are at home against the Chiefs, 49ers, Bengals and Ravens. If they don’t come out with the #1 Seed in the AFC, they screwed up BIG time. Notable Wins: At Cleveland and at Tampa. Notable Losses: At Buffalo and at the Saints.
Tennessee Titans: 6-11
Here is where it gets tricky. When I started posting Win/Loss records DeAndre Hopkins wasn’t on a team yet. Now he has signed with Tennessee. My original projections were pre-DHop, but even with the addition of Hopkins they only win an additional one to three games if they are lucky.
The Titans finished 7-10 last year which was good enough for second in the AFC South, and I don’t see any improvement on paper, outside of Hopkins. Their Wide Receivers are otherwise completely unrecognizable. They drafted all offensive players this year, but besides OT Peter Skoronski, they are all backups. Derrek Henry is still the main weapon on this offense. Notable Wins: At home vs Atlanta after their Bye Week, and vs. Carolina. Notable Losses: At New Orleans for Opening Weekend, and at Cleveland in Week 3.
Houston Texans: 5-12
Houston…we still have a problem. The Texans offense is super young, beside Robert Woods, but he’s just not very good. The last two seasons Woods has averaged about 50 receptions for 540 yards. Running back Dameon Pierce is entering his sophomore season, Wide Receiver Nico Collins is in his third year, and WR3 is rookie, John Metchie III. Tight End Dalton Shultz, who spent the last five seasons in Dallas will probably be the go-to receiver for young CJ Stroud. So, the offense is going to struggle, which means the defense needs to come up big in every game, and their schedule is not favorable. Not to mention their defense was 30th in yards per game and 27th in points given up last year.
Notable Wins: Tampa Bay at home on Week 9, and Denver at home on Week 13. Notable Losses: Pretty much take your pick.
Indianapolis Colts: 3-14
If the Bad News Bears was a movie about an NFL football team, they would be the Colts. With characters like Gardner Minshew, Kwity Paye, and E.J. Speed, you would think you’re watching a bad football movie.
They still have Jonathan Taylor at running back, but when you’re giving up the 29th most points on defense, your RB becomes a non-factor through the game. Michael Pittman Jr is great WR, but who is throwing him the ball? Sadly, the best bet for the Colts is to start Minshew, who’s played in nine games in the last two seasons. I project that Richardson will be a bust. The Colts will have to figure out what to do next year with their #1 draft pick. Notable Wins: Week 12 (after their Bye Week) vs. Tampa Bay, and at home vs. Houston. Notable Losses: Seriously, almost all the rest.
This is only the third of an eight part series that will cover each of the NFL divisions. Please continue to come back and check, as I will be getting into the NFC and projecting how the North will finish. Will it be another Minnesota miracle season, or have the Lions made enough additions to dethrone the Vikings! How good will Jordan Love be in Green Bay, and is Justin Fields all the hype? When I’m finished covering the NFC by division, I’ll let you know what the playoff picture will look like, and who has the best chance of making it to the Super Bowl. Thanks for the “read”!