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AFC South Futures: Texans are the Best of a Bad Bunch

At the midpoint of the NFL season, the AFC South is the messiest division in the NFL. This isn’t especially entertaining if you’re a fan of one of the division’s teams, but it’s a great spot for bettors with the Titans and Colts hot on the heels of the Texans, who lead the division with a 5-3 record.

Going into Week 9, Houston is the favorite to win the division at -175, but the Texans are by far the worst first-place team in the league. They have a -30 point differential that’s easily the worst among division leaders and worse than that of the Titans and Colts. They also have a -7 turnover differential which is the third-worst in the NFL. So, with all these obvious holes, should bettors look to place a wager on the Titans (+275) or Colts (+500)? Absolutely NOT.

Despite all their flaws, the Texans are the best of this bunch and more importantly, they have one of the easiest schedules in the NFL the rest of the season. Their remaining opponents have a combined .443 win percentage which will give them an easier path to a division crown than the Titans or Colts, who both have tougher schedules to close out the season. Looking at Houston’s three losses this season, they were the underdog in each game. It’s pretty simply and consistent for the Texans, as they basically get destroyed by good teams, but they end up winning the games that they’re favored in. With the Patriots, Broncos and Vikings out of the way, going .500 the rest of the way should be good enough to win the division.

The Titans have some serious momentum going after wins in three of their last four games but five of their last eight games are on the road and two of their three home games are against the Packers and Broncos. The Colts, meanwhile, are two games back in the division and have the fourth-hardest schedule in the NFL to close out the season. As for the Jaguars and their 2-5 record, their odds to win the division are +2500 and it’s clear that they’re in the midst of yet another rebuilding season.

2016-17 AFC South Champion

Odds as of November 2 at Bovada

  • Houston Texans -175
  • Tennessee Titans +275
  • Indianapolis Colts +500
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +2500

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The Houston Texans won the AFC South last year despite a confusing quarterback situation and next to no running game. The Texans didn’t rest on their laurels, as they completely retooled their offense this offseason by bringing in Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller in free agency, as well as drafting Will Fuller in the first round.

Even though the Texans look much better on paper entering the preseason, they are still not the favorites to win the AFC South in 2016. That distinction belongs to the Indianapolis Colts who went just 8-8 last season but were without star quarterback Andrew Luck for most of the season.

The Colts will obviously see a huge jump in their offense – that ranked 22nd in passing yards and 24th in points scored last season – but the defense will need to be better in an increasingly dangerous division. Indy’s defense has been ranked 20th or worst in five of the past six seasons – with the lone exception coming in 2014.

The passing attack of the Jacksonville Jaguars is becoming one of the best in the league with Blake Bortles throwing the ball to Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. The scary thing to think about is just how much potential the Jags’ defense has with Jalen Ramsey, Myles Jack and Dante Fowler forming the nucleus of a D that could become special.

The bottom-dwellers of the AFC South would be the Tennessee Titans. There has been a lot of investment on the offensive side of the ball to help Marcus Mariota succeed, as the club signed DeMarco Murray and drafted Derrick Henry to form a 1-2 punch of a running back duo. Couple that with an offensive line that has three first-round picks starting and this offense could be good.

2016/17 AFC South Champion

Odds as of August 10 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts +140
  • Houston Texans +190
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +300
  • Tennessee Titans +1000

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A team often goes as far as their quarterback can carry them, and in the case of the 2015 Indianapolis Colts, it wasn’t very far. Star signal caller Andrew Luck had his season derailed by a lacerated kidney last season, but with the QB expected to be back to full health entering the season, oddsmakers have the Colts as favorites to win the AFC South.

With +125 odds to win the division at online shop BetOnline, the Colts’ second biggest issue last season was the 379 yards per game they allowed. They haven’t exactly addressed the issue during the offseason, so expect to see them in plenty of shootouts with Luck leading the way in 2016.

The team who won the division last season, the Houston Texans, find themselves with the second best odds to win the division at +200. The Texans were the only team in the AFC South with a positive point differential last season and will feature a new look offense led by former Broncos QB Brock Osweiler. The backfield said bye-bye to former fantasy football darling Arian Foster with the addition of Lamar Miller, and they added two receivers in the draft.

Speaking of the draft, the Jacksonville Jaguars received great grades from many experts for their draft. They appear to be a team on the rise being led by Blake Bortles and the two-headed receiving monster of Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns. They should also see an improvement on defense with the additions of Jalen Ramsey and Myles Jack. With +300 odds to win the division, this is a team that could take a major leap in 2016.

Last and certainly least is the Tennessee Titans who improved from one win in 2014 to three wins in 2015. Their odds to win the division are +1000 and they won’t be on anyone’s list as a sexy team entering 2016. They’ll have a new look backfield with the additions of DeMarco Murray and college standout Derrick Henry, and with the development of QB Marcus Mariota, they could be a fun team to watch in 2016.

2016/17 AFC South Champion

Odds as of May 6 at BetOnline

  • Indianapolis Colts +125
  • Houston Texans +200
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +300
  • Tennessee Titans +1000


Barring a late season surge it seems that the winner of the AFC South is going to be below the .500 mark. After 14 weeks on NFL action, the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts are both at 6-7, with the Jacksonville Jaguars close behind at 5-8. The odds have considerably tightened as the season has gone on, and entering Week 15, the Colts are a slight -130 favorite to win the AFC South crown on Bovada.

The Colts quarterback situation appears to be a bit of a mess at the moment. There are reports suggesting that starter Andrew Luck has no chance of playing this season, but he said he will certainly play before the regular season is out. Matt Hasselbeck is expected to be okay after suffering a neck and back injury against the Jags, but if he can’t go it will be up to Charlie Whitehurst.

The Texans end their season with three-straight games against AFC South opponents, with two of those coming on the road. It seems the Texans may be running into quarterback issues of their own with Brian Hoyer suffering his second concussion of the season in Week 14. If Hoyer can’t play, we could very well see Charlie Whitehurst and T.J. Yates face off for the AFC South lead in Week 15.

The end of the regular season looks pretty cushy for the Jaguars as they face teams with a combined 17-22 record. Jacksonville is also coming off their best offensive performance of the season as they put up 51 points in Week 14 against the Colts. However, the Jags will need to do something to help their porous defense that has allowed 27.5 points per game.

And the Titans…well…they are currently leading the way to land the top pick in the draft.

2015/16 AFC South Champion

Odds as of December 15 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts -130
  • Houston Texans +175
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +450


If you haven't been paying attention to the AFC South through the first eight weeks of the season, you did not miss much. The four teams in the division have combined for a 9-21 record through the first half of the season with five of those wins coming against one another.

The Indianapolis Colts are atop the AFC South with a 3-5 record, but are a large -300 favorite to win the divisional crown for a third consecutive year according to Bovada. Quarterback Andrew Luck has regressed more than possibly any other player in the NFL. After finishing third in passing yards and first in passing touchdowns last season, Luck in 20th in the league in passing and has just 13 touchdowns to go with his league-leading 12 interceptions.

After weeks and weeks of a quarterback carousel in Houston, the Texans finally cut Ryan Mallett and have gone with Brian Hoyer as their starter for the remainder of the season. The Texans are actually at 3-5 just like the Colts, but are +350 to win the division.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are 2-5 and still very much in the running for the divisional crown, but are still at least a year away from realizing their potential. The Tennessee Titans just fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt after an awful start to the season that saw them go 1-6 through the first half.

2015/16 AFC South Champion

Odds as of November 5 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts -300
  • Houston Texans +350
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +750
  • Tennessee Titans +5000


The two-time defending AFC South champion Indianapolis Colts have taken a positive step forward in each of franchise quarterback Andrew Luck’s first three years in the NFL, and they sit as the -400 favorites to take the division for the third season in a row at Bovada.

The Colts went to the playoffs as an AFC Wild Card team in Luck’s rookie year and have finished the past two seasons with 11-5 campaigns that were each good enough to win the division.

Indianapolis added some veteran offensive weapons for Luck heading into his fourth year, signing free agent wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore to replace Reggie Wayne and Trent Richardson. But the Colts defense also needs to play much better if they are going to move even closer to their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.

Johnson is a potential Hall of Famer and hoping for one more shot at a championship after leaving the Houston Texans, who are the +425 second choice (bet $100 to win $425) to win the division at Bovada.

The Texans finished 9-7 last season in head coach Bill O’Brien’s first year there, and he needs their offense to evolve and match a solid defense led by reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt.

The two other AFC South teams do not have much of a chance to contend for the title this season after both of them combined to go 5-27 a year ago.

The Tennessee Titans are +1600 to win the division at Bovada and will likely need top draft pick Marcus Mariota to win Offensive Rookie of the Year honors if they are going to contend in his first season. Mariota, who won the Heisman Trophy as quarterback of the Oregon Ducks last year, was selected second overall by the Titans in the 2015 NFL Draft.

The Jacksonville Jaguars won one more game than Tennessee in 2014 but have the same longshot odds to win the AFC South this season at +1600. The Jaguars have already lost their first-round draft pick Dante Fowler to a torn ACL that will keep him out the entire year. The former Florida Gators defensive end was picked third overall in the draft.

2015/16 AFC South Champion

Odds as of August 22 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts -400
  • Houston Texans +425
  • Tennessee Titans +1600
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +1600
2015/16 AFC South Champion

Odds as of July 20 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts -400
  • Houston Texans +450
  • Tennessee Titans +1400
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +1600
2015/16 AFC South Champion

Odds as of May 5 at Bovada

  • Indianapolis Colts -400
  • Houston Texans +450
  • Tennessee Titans +1200
  • Jacksonville Jaguars +2000


2014 AFC South Odds Preview

Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts had a cakewalk in the AFC South last season, putting up a victory in 11 of their 16 games and ending up as the only team in the division to finish above the .500 mark.

And heading into the 2014 season the Colts have been pegged by the oddsmakers at the sportsbooks as the clear favorites on the AFC South odds - at Bovada they're the -200 chalk to claim the division title. Indianapolis went a perfect 6-0 against AFC South teams last season.

Indianapolis Colts Odds to Win AFC South -200
Houston Texans Odds to Win AFC South +300
Tennessee Titans Odds to Win AFC South +700
Jacksonville Jaguars Odds to Win AFC South +1400

The Houston Texans were expected to challenge for the AFC South division crown last season, but instead they bottomed out with a 2-14 record and a 1-5 mark within the division. With Houston turning to quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick the oddsmakers expect a bit of a turnaround in 2014, with Bovada listing them second at +300 on the AFC South odds.

The Tennessee Titans, who went 7-9 overall and 2-4 in the division last season, are then at +700 on the AFC South odds at Bovada, with the Jacksonville Jaguars last on the futures list at +1400. The Jaguars posted a 4-12 record last season, going 3-3 against AFC South teams.


2013 AFC South 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.


2012 AFC South Odds Preview


2011 AFC South Odds Preview

Indianapolis has had a stranglehold on the AFC South for years, winning the division seven times over the last eight seasons. 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.