AFC South Season Odds Preview
Houston finished 12-4 SU, edging Indianapolis by one game in the standings last season. With Andrew Luck and Matt Schaub leading two of the AFC’s top offenses, the race between the two teams figures to be a good one again in 2013. In the meantime, the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars will try to take steps forward in their rebuilding processes.
Houston Texans (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -250)
The Houston Texans looked like the best team in football through the first three months of the season last year going 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS through their first 12 games. But the Texans faltered down the stretch, finishing the regular season on a 1-3 SU and ATS skid and eventually losing to New England in the postseason.
Now re-focused and re-tooled on defense with Brian Cushing returning and Ed Reed acquired, Houston is arguably the league’s best team on paper. With Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson leading a loaded offense and a talented defense behind them, Houston has the look of a Super Bowl contender.
Indianapolis Colts (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +240)
You wouldn’t have known that Andrew Luck was a rookie watching him play last year. The elite young player led Indianapolis to a remarkable 11-5 SU and ATS season just one year after the Colts finished 2-14 SU.
Ahmad Bradshaw joins the attack, and gives the Colts a legitimate running threat to go with their powerhouse passing game. What separates the Colts from the Texans on paper is the defense, which still has some work to do, especially in improving against the run. But Luck should lead an offense that is able to shoot out with anyone, which will keep Indianapolis in just about every game.
Tennessee Titans (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +800)
Tennessee’s offense is just a big batch of question marks. Can Chris Johnson find the form that led him to over 2,000 rushing yards in 2009? Can Jake Locker finally stay healthy and start reaching his potential at quarterback? Will Kenny Britt bloom into a star at wide receiver?
Even if all of those questions end up with positive answers for the Titans, their defense will still leave plenty to be desired. Tennessee could make for an interesting team with some high scores in 2013, but the Titans aren’t ready to compete with Houston or Indianapolis just yet.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +2800)
There is no way around it; the Jacksonville Jaguars are an absolute mess. Maurice Jones-Drew is the one bright spot on a team severely lacking in talent on both sides of the ball, and you have to wonder how much more damage his body can take after years of being this team’s workhorse.
Blaine Gabbert or Chad Henne at quarterback doesn’t excite anyone, and the defense figures to be among the league’s worst, especially playing in the offensively gifted AFC South. The Jaguars went 2-14 SU last year and don’t figure to be much better this year, likely battling with Oakland for the first pick in next year’s draft.
Indianapolis has had a stranglehold on the AFC South for years, winning the division seven times over the last eight seasons.
Editor Note: AFC South odds preview for 2012, cick here.
But with questions swirling this preseason about Peyton Manning’s recovery from his offseason neck surgery, the Colts may be losing their iron grip over the division. Can Houston finally put it all together and take the next step, or can Jacksonville or Tennessee find their way in? The AFC South should be very interesting.
Indianapolis Colts (Odds to Win Conference at Bovada 9/1)
Peyton Manning has never missed a game over the course of his 14-year career, so it is hard to imagine the Colts without him under center. Indianapolis could survive a game or two without him, but if he misses significant time or is less effective due to the injury, the Colts will be in trouble.
No one, not even Manning, seems to have a grasp on the situation. Bettors that believe he’ll be fine may be getting good value on him right now; but they do so at a risk.
Houston Texans (Odds to Win Conference at Bovada 12/1)
If a team is going to take Indianapolis’ spot atop the division, the Texans will likely be the team to do it. Loaded with one of the best offenses in football including Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, and Andre Johnson, Houston will (as usual) have no trouble putting up points.
Whether or not the defense can step up is the question. Cornerback Johnathan Joseph was a great addition and will certainly improve the unit, but he’ll need help from the supporting cast to help catapult the Texans into the playoff hunt.
Jacksonville Jaguars (Odds to Win Conference at Bovada 35/1)
In Maurice Jones-Drew, the Jaguars have one of the best and most reliable feature running backs in the game, and he alone keeps Jacksonville in many games. He struggled with knee issues last season, and will need to stay healthy to keep Jacksonville afloat this season.
With a terrible defense and a less-than-stellar supporting cast around Jones-Drew, Jacksonville isn’t likely to win the AFC South. But with so many question marks around the division, they could stay in the hunt with another eight-win season like they had last year.
Tennessee Titans (Odds to Win Conference at Bovada 35/1)
Chris Johnson and the Titans were finally able to work out a new deal, ending the holdout and getting Johnson back on the field. While his style is different than Maurice Jones-Drew, he shares the same ability to take over a game and slow down superior teams.
Like Jacksonville, Tennessee also has a lackluster offense and bad defense, making them more likely to finish in the bottom half of the division standings.