You want a division that exemplifies the NFL’s perfect idea of parity? Look no further than the AFC South. Since this division was created in 2002, every team has won it at least once. So who will it be this season?
In chess, the most exciting thing that can happen in a match is when players go off the book. It’s the moment when the opposing players stop making moves that have been done before and instead make a gambit that hasn’t before been seen in the history of chess. Well, as we look at the AFC South odds, make no mistake, I am going off sportsbook.
I don’t think the books took into account multiple factors when it comes to the AFC South. The NFL can be unpredictable and the odds, lines and totals are a way to try to make sense of the chaos. When it comes to the AFC South odds, I think they’re way off. There’s some money to be made here.
2018 AFC South Odds
Houston Texans -320
Indianapolis Colts +450
Tennessee Titans +550
Jacksonville Jaguars +12,500
Tennessee Titans Odds
Win totals: Over 8.5 (-110), Under 8.5 (-140)
While the books like the Houston Texans to win the AFC South, I think the Tennessee Titans are the team to beat. This offense is loaded with talent at every skill position and has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If the defense is middle-of-the-kac (and they should be better than that), the Titans will surprise plenty of people.
Projected win total and finish: 11-5, first place AFC South
Indianapolis Colts Odds
Win totals: Over 7.5 (-115), Under 7.5 (-115)
The books have picked the Colts to finish last in the division in their AFC South odds. I think that is flat out ridiculous based on two factors; quarterback Andrew Luck and new head coach Frank Reich.
First off, let’s talk about Reich. The Colts had no intention of hiring the offensive coordinator that just won the Super Bowl. Instead, they tried to hire the offensive coordinator that lost the Super Bowl. Josh McDaniels backed out and the Colts saved the franchise by actually hiring the best man for the job. Weird how things work out sometimes.
Reich inherited a mess after head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson decimated the team with horrible drafts, trades and free agent choices for the last five seasons. Not a single player the team drafted in 2013 or 2014 is still on the roster. Reich and new GM Chris Ballard had plenty of work to do this offseason and they nailed it pretty much across the board. While there is only so much improvement they can make in a single offseason, they have the wild card of all wild cards: Andrew Luck.
Luck is, unquestionably, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and any success the Colts had while Pagano was there, getting to the AFC Championship in the 2014-15 season for instance, was all because Luck is incredible. Now that he’ll have a more competent supporting cast, the only thing that could make the Colts stumble is his health.
Luck has participated in camp and everything looks good. We won’t really know until the season starts how Luck’s shoulder will hold up. I’m betting he’ll be fine and making my AFC North betting picks accordingly.
Projected win total and finish: 10-6, second place in the AFC South
Jacksonville Jaguars Odds
Win totals: Over 8.5 (-125), Under 8.5 (-105)
Here’s the problem with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They’ll be as good as they were in 2017, if not better. It’s just that their entire division will be better too and there are only so many victories possible in a 32-team league. The Jaguars benefited from facing off against Chuck Pagano twice last season and while they should have had similar results against Mike Mularkey with the Titans, they didn’t. Tennessee swept the Jags, including a 15-10 victory in the final game of the regular season.
The Jaguars still won the division and made it all the way to the AFC title game, even leading for most of three quarters before the New England Patriots slammed the Super Bowl door in their faces. I like Doug Marrone. I even like Blake Bortles to take a solid step this season. I just don’t see them making it back to the playoffs.
Projected win total and finish: 9-7, third place in the AFC South
Houston Texans Odds
Win totals: Over 9 (-115), Under 9 (-115)
If you want to jump on a bandwagon, there’s plenty of room on Deshaun Watson’s and for good reason. When looking at the AFC South odds, it’s easy to get excited about what Watson showed in his six starts with Houston last season. Here’s the problem there; in spite of throwing 19 touchdowns and running for two in his six games, he only won three of them.
Bill O’Brien remains the head coach of the Houston Texans and he doesn’t exactly have an impressive track record. O’Brien’s squad has limped into the postseason in two of his head coaching seasons simply because the rest of the AFC South has been terrible and Andrew Luck has been hurt. Neither of those things are true this season, which may make it a long year in Houston.
Projected win total and finish: 6-10, fourth place in the AFC South
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