The American Football Conference’s South Division promises to be one of the most competitive races in the 2018-19 season.
The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans both made the playoffs last season, with the Jags earning a spot in the AFC title game and the Titans upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs in a wild-card game.
Both the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans are banking on the return of their franchise quarterbacks to challenge for the division crown. Jacksonville is the favorite (+160) to repeat as AFC South champs, but the Texans and second-year QB sensation Deshaun Watson are close behind at +180 (odds provided by TopBet).
Betting Numbers For The AFC South
The Texans, who were 4-12 last season, finished tied for third and last in the division. They are +180 (or 9-5 odds) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 money line wager on the Texans will return a $180 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $280.
The Colts, who were 4-12 last season, finished tied for third and last in the division. They are +450 (9-2) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Colts will return a $450 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $550.
The Jaguars, who were 10-6 last season, finished first and won their third division title in franchise history. They are +160 (8-5) to repeat as division champs this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Jaguars will return a $160 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $260.
The Titans, who were 9-7 last season, finished second in the division. They are +350 (7-2) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Titans will return a $350 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $450.
It’s Time To Pick A Divisional Winner
Houston (Last title: 2016)
The entire success of the Texans’ season hinges on the health of their young QB. Deshaun Watson, who has now torn an ACL in both legs, returns from an injury in his rookie season.
In his last five starts, Watson led the Texans’ offense to at least 33 points a game, including 57 against the division-rival Titans. Houston also has improved on defense, and if J.J. Watt is healthy, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Texans to go from worst to first.
They have two great tests to start the season — on the road in New England and Tennessee — and play in prime time on three occasions this year.
Indianapolis (Last title: 2014)
The Colts, like the Texans, are banking on a healthy quarterback for 2018. Andrew Luck says his surgically repaired shoulder feels good after missing part of the 2016 season and all of 2017.
The Colts have gone 12-20 in the last two seasons and they need their star to regain his old form to have any shot at a wild card spot or division title.
A rebuilt defense might take some time to mesh and the new up-tempo offense, under new head coach Frank Reich, could sputter a bit as the Colts play four of their first six games on the road.
Jacksonville (Last title: 2017)
The Jaguars return 12 of the top 14 players from a defense that ranked second in the league last season.
The Jaguars scored the second-most points in the conference and had a point differential of +149, which was tied for third best in the NFL.
Even after winning the division title in 2017, Jacksonville has still only won 32 games in the last seven seasons — an average of 4.6 victories per year.
Their schedule may be tougher in 2018, but they’re still the team to beat in the South.
Tennessee (Last title: 2008)
Will the Titans be better on defense this year than the Jaguars? Not likely. Can they outscore the run-and-gun Texans? Hardly, especially since they allowed 22 more points than they scored last season.
Marcus Mariota threw for 13 touchdowns in his third year behind center, but he had even more interceptions with 15. For the Titans to move forward and improve off back-to-back 9-7 seasons, those numbers have to improve.
Tennessee impressively topped the Jaguars twice last season on its way to a 5-1 division record, but a 3-5 road record just won’t get the job done. At least first-year head coach Mike Vrabel and his team face one of the easiest schedules in the league.
VGB’s pick — Houston (+180). The Texans have won this division four of the last seven seasons. If Watson falters or gets hurt again, the Jaguars and their punishing defense should repeat as champs.
Chris Wassel is a skilled scribe who possesses a fervor for both sports and entertainment. Boasting a journalism background and over two decades of experience, he has crafted pieces that encompass a diverse array of sports including hockey, basketball, football, and others. His writing is characterized by its lucidity and sharpness, and provides a unique viewpoint on entertainment and political matters. While Chris primarily focuses on sports writing, he also writes about a wide range of subjects.