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2017

AFC South

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Odds and Picks

For the second-straight season, the Texans took the AFC South after having worse odds than the Colts to win it. Things are different this time around as the Titans have quietly stepped in as the biggest competitor after having long +1000 odds only a year ago. As for the Jaguars, a trendy pick a year ago, they’re once again expected to finish last in the division.

Odds to win AFC South

Courtesy of 5dimes (early August)

Houston Texans +195
Tennessee Titans +195
Indianapolis Colts +265
Jacksonville Jaguars +630

The Houston Texans (over/under 8.5) have received little respect over the last couple years and even after finishing with the same record as the Titans last year, it’s a surprise they aren’t the downright favorite. For starters, it’s hard to see their new quarterback being worse than Brock Osweiler a year ago. Whether it’s Tom Savage of Deshaun Watson, the expectations are to simply match what Osweiler did and that should be enough. Offensively, they didn’t add much, but with Lamar Miller and DeAndre Hopkins still leading the skill positions, they didn’t need to. The defense remains the selling point for this team and welcoming back J.J. Watt should see this group contend for the league’s best and top five at a minimum. Jadeveon Clowney took a step last year, while corner Kevin Johnson is expected to have a bigger role (with A.J. Bouye gone) after missing most of last season.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Tennessee Titans (over/under 8.5) are the other favorite in the division, having scored 102 more points (381) than the Texans last season. And that offense added a few more pieces to help Marcus Mariota take the next step at becoming an elite quarterback. In addition to drafting Corey Davis and Taywan Taylor, the Titans added Eric Decker to the receiving core. Combine that with one of the better offensive lines in the league with DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry out of the backfield and this team should reach 400 points. The goal for the defense will be to improve consistency, especially in the secondary with the signing of Logan Ryan and drafting of Adoree’ Jackson. But if the offense is one of the better ones in the league, being mediocre may be enough for the Titans to reach the playoffs.

The Indianapolis Colts (over/under 8) have taken a dive over the last couple years mostly because of an ineffective offensive line and defense that has never been in the top half in Andrew Luck’s five-year career. The biggest thing for the Colts is that Luck can play all 16 games and that’s not a given with him questionable for the opener due to a shoulder injury. With a new GM and Chuck Pagano needing to make the playoffs or possibly lose his job, the Colts have a lot of work to do. The offense looks mostly the same with Frank Gore at running back and T.Y. Hilton at receiver. Better health and more experience is expected to help the offensive line, while Donte Moncrief had a lot of hype in camp after missing seven games last year to multiple injuries. New GM Chris Ballard’s biggest thing when he came in was to change the defense and almost every starter is different from a year ago. Mainstays like Vontae Davis and Darius Butler are still around, but other than that it’s a mix bag of mid-range players. After being one of the worst in the league yet again last year, there’s a different kind of mentality with the new group.

And finally, the Jacksonville Jaguars (over/under 7) aren’t getting the same hype as a year ago mainly because they finished with just three wins. Blake Bortles is still the quarterback and while they brought in Leonard Fournette, it’s hard to see him changing the offense, especially with rookie Cam Robinson to slot immediately into left tackle. Outside of that, all of the weapons will be the same and they probably downgraded at tight end with Julius Thomas no longer there. But defensively, the Jaguars have all the pieces to become a great unit, it’s just about putting that all together. In addition to Jalen Ramsey in the secondary, A.J. Bouye was added to the group from the Texans in addition to Barry Church at safety. Second-year linebacker Myles Jack is expected to have a bigger role, while Calais Campbell was added to a line that already had Malik Jackson and Dante Fowler in the mix.

In truth, any one of these teams could win the division and that’s why the odds look like they do. The Texans are the safe pick because we already know what their defense can do, especially with Watt returning. Taking the more offensive-based teams like the Titans and Colts are always fun, but neither one has shown they can actually win the division in recent years and the same goes for the Jags.

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