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AFC South NFL Preview
Odds - Picks - Team Analysis
The AFC South wasn't much of a race last year. The Indianapolis Colts completely dominated their foes en route to a 14-2 regular season record and a trip to the Super Bowl where they faltered against the Saints. The Colts are back with nearly every starter intact and will be tough to beat. The Houston Texans made a late playoff push, but just missed. They will be strong this year. The Tennessee Titans will be much closer to the team from two years ago then the one that started with many losses in 2009. The Jaguars have lots of young offensive players that will make their games exciting.
Here are the current odds to win the AFC South courtesy of sportsbook.com
Let's take a look at the AFC South for 2010.
Indianapolis Colts - How do you top a 14-0 start and a trip to the Super Bowl? Well, the Colts can do it by finishing 16-0 and actually winning the Super Bowl. I know, easier said than done. In reality, a 12-4 record would be plenty good enough for this team to win the South. 13-3 Would probably get them home field advantage. The Colts are VERY capable of doing that.
Superstar QB Peyton Manning will be as good as ever in 2010. The Tennessee grad is one of the most prolific passers in the history of the game, and he will be motivated to win the big one this year after coming so close and failing last year. His best weapon, Reggie Wayne, is back and healthy. The running game will be better after finishing 32nd last year thanks to Donald Brown. The UCONN alum will make his presence known. The defense has studs in Mathis and Freeney. Look for the Colts to have this division on lockdown by Week 10. That being said, at odds of -250 at most top sportsbooks, there's simply no value in betting on the colts to win the AFC South.
Houston Texans - After rallying at the end of the year this club missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. This year they are better than ever with good depth through the second string. QB Matt Schaub isn't the best in the NFL, but his top WR is the best in the league at his position. WR Andre Johnson has explosive speed and catching ability. He will catch over 100 passes despite double coverage. WR Kevin Walter is an effective pass catcher. The offense will need more production from RBs Steve Slaton and Ben Tate. Slaton is coming into this year after an injury in 2009 and Tate is a rookie. The defense has strong players in LB Brian Cushing and DE Mario Williams. Cushing will miss the first four games of the year with a suspension. Williams had 9.5 sacks last year. It's not out of the question for him to get more in 2010. Connor Barwin will be a valuable tool on the defensive line when he is able to start. He was drafted in the second round back in 2008. The Texans have the ability to lock down a wild card spot, but knocking out the Colts is a tall order.
Jacksonville Jaguars - Last year this team would've been better described as "The Maurice Jones-Drew Show". The powerful RB rushed for over 1,300 yards. He and the rest of the team are hoping others on the offense contribute this year. That is very likely. Though he has struggled lately, David Garrard is a capable NFL QB. The offensive line, Eugene Monroe in particular, will be improved. Monroe, last years 1st round pick, has the potential to be one of the best blockers in the NFL. Mike Sims-Walker is clearly the best WR on the team. Look for him to lead the Jags in receptions. The front office did good by drafting defensive players. The line will be stronger this year. All in all, this team isn't quite there yet, but could be in the near future if it develops an identity on defense and allows someone other than Jones-Drew to produce on offense.
Tennessee Titans - Fret not, Titans fans. Your team won't start nearly as miserably as they did in 2009. They ended the year stronger than expected. Fisher is no slouch and he will have these boys ready to play. Fisher has arguably the best RB in the NFL in Chris Johnson. This team would be nowhere without Johnson. He just keeps on going and rushes for over 100 yards nearly every game. QB Vince Young is a capable scrambler, but he needs to become a better pro-style QB this year. There is no reason to believe he won't. The defense on this team boasts a nasty secondary anchored by Ss Michael Griffin and Chris Hope. Tony Brown will be a force on the defensive line. He has great speed for his size and he can shoot the gaps well. Remember, the Titans were one of the better teams in the entire NFL the year before last. They have one of the best coaches in the NFL, and they finished the year strong a year ago. The Titans would be our upset pick to win the South.
There is little reason to believe the Colts won't win the AFC South. But this is the NFL, where teams can go from worst to first in one year. You also have a couple of teams in the Texans and Titans that finished the year strong and are plenty capable. It's never easy in the NFL when you have a bulls eye on your back. But with odds around 4/1 or so on both of those teams, we see little value in the futures wager to win the AFC South. If you feel that strongly about either team, you'll find far more value in individual games than in this particular futures bet.