The NFL’s South Division has become an interesting race. This used to be a division dominated by the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans who have won the division in nine out of the last 10 years. But the sudden retirement of Colts’ QB Andrew Luck and the trade that sent Jadeveon Clowney from the Texans to the Seahawks have changed the landscape of the AFC South. Then in week 1 of the 2019 NFL season, Jacksonville lost quarterback Nick Foles to injury, further sending the division into limbo.
Here are the odds to win the AFC South Division this season. These odds were taken from TitanBet as of 9/11/19:
- Houston Texans +160
- Tennessee Titans +175
- Indianapolis Colts +375
- Jacksonville Jaguars +550
Who Are The Favorites?
The Houston Texans were the 2018 NFC South division champions and this season, they are not a team that can be overlooked. The Texans have a great quarterback in Deshaun Watson, a very good wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins and an elite defensive player in J.J.Watt. The team however, lost Kareem Jackson and Tyrann Mathieu and their replacements in Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby aren’t as good. Three-time Pro-Bowler Jadeveon Clowney was traded to the Seattle Seahawks after he couldn’t agree to a deal with the Texans. With Lamar Miller hurt, Duke Johnson starts the season as starter. The offensive line added Tytus Howard and Max Scharping with their draft picks to shore up a line that yielded 62 sacks last season.
The Tennessee Titans have been on a downward trend in the past two seasons but because of the Colts’ tumble, they are second behind the Houston Texans in the current AFC South odds board. The Titans made the postseason and won a playoff game in 2017. Then last season, they finished at 9-7 and missed the playoffs in Mike Vrabel’s inaugural coaching season. This year, more things are expected from the Titans with the arrival of quarterback Ryan Tannehill who should push Marcus Mariota for the starting spot. Adam Humphries also joined their receiving corps from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while second round pick AJ Brown from Ole Miss is expected to contribute right away. Veteran defensive end Cameron Wake provides Harold Landry with an experienced partner and that is seen as a plus for the Titans as well.
Last season, the Indianapolis Colts were the third team in NFL history to make the playoffs after stating the season at 1-5. This happened when the Colts lost five out of their first six games and then went on to win nine out of their last 10 regular season games. After that strong finish, Indianapolis looked primed for a better 2019 considering they didn’t suffer major personnel losses after the end of the season. The Colts also signed wide receiver Devin Funchess and edge rusher Justin Houston and both are expected to make an immediate impact. However, the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck has pushed them back in the field. Indianapolis was the NFL betting favorite to win this division but with Luck gone, the Colts have tumbled to third in the odds board.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are a hard team to analyze. At one point, they were tagged as Super Bowl contenders after a trip to the AFC title game the year before. However, their offense sputtered and their defense failed them. As a result, 2018 was a terrible year for them. The Jaguars made a buzz during the offseason when they acquired Super Bowl LII MVP Nick Foles from the Philadelphia Eagles, hoping that the quarterback’s leadership is going to turn their team around for the better. But Foles suffered a clavicle injury on opening week and is expected to miss two months of action. That’s the main reason why the Jaguars have tumbled to the bottom of the list. The Jaguars drafted Josh Allen with the 7th overall pick of the 2019 NFL draft and with Jacksonville depleted on offense, they will look to their defense to deliver early on to help them get wins.
The AFC South was supposed to be an easier pick to make had Andrew Luck not retired. The Colts’ strong finish to the previous season made them look like a team that could win the division this year. But now that the Colts are Luck-less ( but not luckless ), it’s a wide open division that anybody can win. There were high hopes for the Jaguars but with Nick Foles sidelined, they too have tumbled in the oddsboard and are now at the bottom of the pack.
With the Colts and Jaguars losing the players who were supposed to be their starting quarterbacks, that leaves us with the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans. Tennessee opened the season with an impressive 43-13 win over the hyped Cleveland Browns. But that win was more of Cleveland getting overconfident and overhyped more than anything else. On the other hand, the Houston Texans opened the season with a loss to the New Orleans Saints in a game which saw DeShaun Watson get sacked six times.
We can’t judge teams based on week 1 performance alone but if opening week was any indication, the Texans’ offensive line remains a problem. Marcus Mariota looked good and rookie AJ Brown was as advertised for the Titans. If the Titans keep that up, they are going to be the team to beat in this division. I think this is still a wide open division but after week 1, I will have to go with the Tennessee Titans, by using the process of elimination. Prediction: Tennessee Titans