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Odds to Win AFC South
Analysis and Preview
The Houston Texans started out last season 3-3 and then went on a seven-game winning streak before losing their final three games of the regular season to finish 10-6 and win the AFC South. Texans RB Arian Foster was a total workhorse again last season, rushing for 1,224 yards after leading the NFL in rushing two years ago. Houston quarterback Matt Schaub was also very effective while he was healthy, throwing for 2 479 yards with 15 touchdowns and and just six interceptions during his 10 active games.
Unfortunately for the Texans, Schaub sustained a Lisfranc injury in Week 10 against Tampa Bay and was ruled out for the remainder of the season. They had more bad luck when backup Matt Leinart fractured his left collarbone in his first start filling in for Schaub and was also placed on the season-ending Injured Reserve list. Rookie QB TJ Yates was then called upon to start down the stretch as the team was preparing for the playoffs. In their first-ever playoff game, Houston played great defense and blew out the Bengals, 31-10. Then the Texans had to travel to Baltimore where they lost a close, hard-fought game 20-13 to the Ravens. They were dealt another big blow in the offseason as Pro Bowl pass rusher Mario Williams signed a massive contract with the Buffalo Bills that could be worth close to $100 million. The Texans are still huge favorites to repeat as AFC South champions at -350 in addition to 7/2 to win the AFC Championship and 12/1 to win Super Bowl XLVII.
The Tennessee Titans went 9-7 last season and just missed the playoffs, losing out on a tiebreaker for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC. The Titans had a steady season, going 3-3 in their first six games and then 6-4 in their last 10. Nate Washington was a surprise 1,000-yard wide receiver for the Titans after Kenny Britt suffered a season-ending knee injury after just their third game. Veteran QB Matt Hasselbeck also provided solid leadership despite the team drafting Jake Locker out of Washington. Chris Johnson was also a disappointment at RB for the Titans, barely rushing for 1,000 yards and only having four games of 100 yards rushing or more after sitting out most of training camp due to a contract dispute. The Titans are counting on a rebound year for Johnson and Locker to eventually emerge as a starter at some point, although Britt may not be full strength for a while following another recent surgery on his other knee. They are +400 to win the division, 25/1 to win the AFC Championship and 50/1 to win the Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts were an absolute disaster last season without future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning under center. Manning was dealing with a series of neck injuries, and the Colts nearly went winless without him. They started a lowly 0-13 before winning two out of their last three games to finish 2-14. Despite those two late-season wins, Indy still earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. That put the team in perfect position to draft Stanford's Andrew Luck, who is believed to be the best QB prospect since Manning according to many NFL experts. Owner Jim Irsay decided to cut Manning loose and go all in on Luck as the replacement for a living legend who ended up in Denver after signing with the Broncos. Indianapolis will also enter this season with a new head coach in Chuck Pagano following the firing of Jim Caldwell. The Colts will no doubt suffer through some growing pains this year and in the near future, and they are listed at +1200 to win the division, 60/1 to win the AFC Championship and 100/1 to win the Super Bowl.
Much like their division rivals the Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars had a rough season in going 5-11 a year ago. One of Jacksonville's very few bright spots was Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew rushing for a career-high 1,606 yards, which led the league. Rookie QB Blaine Gabbert was a disappointment in his first year, throwing for 2,214 yards with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The Jaguars did bring in some big-time wide receiver talent to aid Gabbert's development, signing free agent Laurent Robinson (formerly of the Dallas Cowboys) and drafting Justin Blackmon out of Oklahoma State. While Blackmon has already had a rough first year in the NFL, recently pleading guilty to DUI charges in Oklahoma, he is expected to a huge playmaker right off the bat in Jacksonville. Indy is not the only team in the division with a new coach, as the Jaguars fired head coach Jack Del Rio after a 3-8 start and replaced him with former Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey in the offseason. The team is also trying to take on a different identity under new owner Shahid Khan, but it may take a few years. The Jaguars are +1500 to win the division, 75/1 to win the AFC Championship and 200/1 to win the Super Bowl.
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