The AFC South is the most compelling division in the NFL this season. Three members – Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Houston – made the playoff cut last season, and Jacksonville – the odd team out – made it to the AFC Championship in 2017 and recently added a former Super Bowl MVP quarterback. So there’s a reason the divisional futures are so tight.
Here’s a rundown of betting trends and odds to win the AFC South during the 2019 NFL season:
Indianapolis Colts -140
Andrew Luck proved he’s back on top of the quarterback pecking order in 2018, returning from a lost season and shoulder surgery in 2017. He’s the top arm in the AFC South and has some fantastic weapons around him, including WR T.Y. Hilton and RB Marlon Mack. However, both of those players have been bitten by the injury bug and that could be enough to derail the Colts in a very competitive division. Indianapolis has a young and promising defense that finished 10th in takeaways in 2018. If the Colts can chaos more chaos with the pass rush, that should be more than enough support for Luck & Co. to put space on the scoreboard.
Houston Texans +425
The Texans are the reigning AFC South champs, led by QB Deshaun Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins. The durability of fellow WRs Will Fuller and Keke Coutee will be the determining factor for this offense, which slows down considerably when Hopkins is the lone go-to guy. The offensive line needed an overhaul, after watching Watson run for his life far too much, and Houston addressed that through signings and draft picks. J.J. Watt is in the twilight of his career and played all 16 games for the first time in three seasons last year. The Texans stop unit can generate pass pressure and stuff the run, but much like the offense, injuries can quickly weaken the roster.
Jacksonville Jaguars +475
Blake Bortles is finally gone in North Florida, replaced by Nick Foles, who gets his first uncontested starting job of his career. The Jaguars also brought in Foles’ former QB coach John DeFilippo to run the offense, which includes RB Leonard Fournette and WRs Chris Conley and Marquise Lee. Jacksonville lost its swagger on defense in 2018, registering only 17 takeaways and 37 sacks after posting 33 and 55 (both ranked second in the NFL) in 2017. If the Jags can get that same disruption back in 2019, they could be a solid value play to win the AFC South at almost 5/1 odds.
Tennessee Titans +750
Are the Titans getting disrespected at this price? Tennessee did make the postseason in 2018 and enters Year 2 under Mike Vrabel, so improvements from their nine wins last season are expected. However, this offense is under yet another offensive coordinator – Arthur Smith – who is the fourth OC in the past five seasons. QB Marcus Mariota is entering a make-or-break season and RB Derrick Henry has been the model of inconsistency over his short pro career. Defensively, the Titans need to toughen up in the secondary where some big-name players have failed to perform, and they could also use some support from the pass rush which collected 39 sacks in 2018.