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Titans Remain Clear Favorites to Win AFC South Entering the Stretch Run

The Jacksonville Jaguars have never won the AFC South in the 22-year existence of the franchise, and according to oddsmakers, they’ll be in tough to accomplish the feat in 2017.

When it comes to AFC South division futures at Bovada, the Tennessee Titans are the undisputed -175 favorites. Jacksonville is available in plus-money at +135, while the odds of the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts weren’t available to wager on at the shop due to their placement in the standings.

Entering Week 13, the Jags and Titans own identical 7-4 SU records but Tennessee is in first due to a tiebreaker. Tennessee was favored to claim the banner at the start of the year, but Marcus Mariota and company haven’t exactly run away with things so far. The Jaguars have been synonymous with losing over the years but are finally looking like a contending team thanks to a vaunted defense that tops the NFL in many major defensive categories.

Jacksonville hasn’t seen the postseason since 2007 and looked like the same old Jaguars in Week 12 in the form of a back-breaking interception by Blake Bortles with little time on the clock. It’s hard to trust the Jaguars due to their past history of failures, but if Bortles and the offense can get it together on a consistent basis, they could easily claim the AFC South and offer a nice value bet.

The Titans should have more than seven wins, and the reason falls squarely on the man under center. Mariota hasn’t played as well in 2017 as we know he can and possesses an ugly 9-12 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The native of Hawaii is the key to the Titans offense, but he hasn’t made the leap in his third pro season.

ODDS TO WIN 2017 AFC South
Tennessee Titans-175
Jacksonville Jaguars+135

Odds as of November 30 at Bovada

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Things have been much different in the AFC South this season, as all four teams are decidedly OK. That being said, the excitement level is still high for most of the teams in the division – sorry, Colts fans.

The Tennessee Titans are slight +150 favorites to win the division for the first time since 2008. Though the Titans currently hold first place in the AFC South, they also have -15 net points on the season after an embarrassing 57-14 beating at the hands of the Houston Texans. Despite their inconsistencies early in the season, the team should thrive as the year wears on thanks to their grinding rushing attack and aggressive big bodies up front.

Nipping at the Titans’ heels are the Texans (+175), who might have the most upside of any team in the division right now. Quarterback Deshaun Watson looks to be the true franchise signal-caller the team has been looking for since its inception, as the rookie has thrown for 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions. However, the Texans defense needs to step up if this team is going to be a real playoff contender, as they are allowing 24.5 points per game.

Though they sit second in the AFC South at this time, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the third-best odds (+200) to win the division. That is likely due to their inconsistencies, as the Jags have posted an average scoring margin of +26.8 in their victories and -11.3 in their losses. You never seem to know which team will show up from week to week. The offense is clicking thanks to Leonard Fournette but the rest of the team is middling.

Then, there are the Indianapolis Colts (+5000). The Colts are still technically in the hunt for the division but their only wins on the year have come against the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns – the two remaining winless teams. Indy is 25th in total offense and 31st in total defense. Barring a miraculous change in many facets, it’s another down year for the Colts.

ODDS TO WIN 2017 AFC South
Tennessee Titans+150
Houston Texans+175
Jacksonville Jaguars+200
Indianapolis Colts+5000

Odds as of October 25 at Bovada

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Considered by many to be the worst division in the NFL, the AFC South has produced borderline unwatchable football for two straight seasons and that’s not likely going to change much in 2017.

That said, someone’s going to have to win it and at Bovada the Texans and Titans are the +200 co-favorites to take the banner when all is said and done. The Colts (+250) and Jaguars (+550) aren’t far behind.

Finishing both of their division-winning campaigns with identical 9-7 records, the Texans have simply been the best of a very bad crop and made the playoffs by virtue of a combined 10-2 record against divisional opponents in 2015 and 2016.

Winning games against teams in the AFC South is by no means an impressive feat and when you consider that their average margin of victory in those contests was just 3.8 points last year, it really discredits their conquest.

Houston’s offseason, highlighted by the departure of Brock Osweiler, left a lot to be desired and a much-improved Titans club could be poised to finally usurp the Texans and take the division title for the first time since 2008.

Although they’ll likely be without starting quarterback and superstar-in-the-making Marcus Mariota for the start of the season, the Titans have the clearest path to the playoffs of any team in the South. Spending the fifth overall draft pick on a wide receiver and signing Eric Decker, Titans management made a concerted effort to improve its pass catchers in the offseason and that task was definitely achieved.

Last year, when Mariota had limited weapons, the then sophomore posted a 95.6 passer rating with a 26:9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With a significantly improved arsenal at his disposal in 2017, the third-year man could do scary things once he heals up. Bettors would be wise to consider the Titans in this spot.

Indy will probably be Tennessee’s biggest threat for AFC South superiority this year. The Colts are still a massively flawed team with one of the worst front lines in all of football but as long as they have Andrew Luck under center and a couple of guys who can catch the ball, they’re going to win eight or more games.

The Jags are set for another season of mud-toiling after winning just four games in 2016. It’s become clear that Blake Bortles is never going to become the field general he was built up to be and unless running back Leonard Fournette is some kind of generational talent, it’s another year of mediocrity in the cards for Jacksonville.

Houston Texans+200
Tennessee Titans+200
Indianapolis Colts+250
Jacksonville Jaguars+550

Odds as of September 1 at Bovada

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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

Archived Articles

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

Archived Articles

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