The AFC South came down to a Week 18 battle between the Jaguars and the Titans in 2022, with Jacksonville winning and springing a monumental comeback in the Wild Card Round against the Chargers before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs.
The rest of the division was a disaster, leading to overturn at head coach and quarterback for the Colts and Texans. The betting odds to win the division are heavily skewed toward the Jaguars. Fortunately, there are other betting options for the AFC South, and one stands out as especially appealing at plus odds.
Let’s run through the AFC South predictions and odds below.
AFC South Odds
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of August 23.
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Jacksonville Jaguars Odds To Win AFC South: (-155)
Trevor Lawrence and Doug Pederson deserve a ton of credit for quickly distancing themselves from the stench of Urban Meyer’s pitiful tenure as the team’s head coach. The Jaguars went 9-8 and had rock-solid underlying data.
First, according to Pro-Football-Reference, they had a positive 54-point point differential. Second, they were Pro Football Focus’s 16th-graded team. Third, according to Football Outsiders, the Jaguars were 13th in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and 13th in weighted DVOA.
Lawrence is the biggest reason for optimism about the Jaguars retaining their perch atop the AFC South. He thrived as a sophomore in Pederson’s offense. Yet, Lawrence can take another step forward if Calvin Ridley returns from his suspension for gambling and recaptures the dominant form he demonstrated in 2020. If Ridley plays like a No. 1 wideout, Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, Evan Engram, etc., can excel bumped down in the pecking order. Still, tying up money for months on a -155 line isn’t appealing, even though the line is fair since the Jaguars should comfortably win the division.
Tennessee Titans Odds To Win AFC South: (+350)
The Titans were 7-10 and were outscored by 61 points by their opponents last year. Sadly, the season ended on a seven-game losing streak. However, the team was 6-6 in Ryan Tannehill’s 12 starts and only 1-4 in starts by Joshua Dobbs and Malik Willis.
Dobbs was plucked off a practice squad to replace Willis after the rookie quarterback was entirely overwhelmed. Frankly, Mike Vrabel deserves praise for keeping his club competitive while Dobbs and Willis led them.
Vrabel has squeezed every drop out of the Titans during his five seasons as their head coach. He has a 48-34 record, and Vrabel had winning records in his first four years before last year’s losing season. Nevertheless, Derrick Henry is approaching a workload when he could fall off a cliff, and Tannehill is a game manager and not a game-changer. The Titans will play tough for Vrabel and might exceed their low expectations. But winning the AFC South is a task too tall for the Titans to reach, with the Jaguars ascending while they’re descending.
Indianapolis Colts Odds To Win AFC South: (+600)
They were mistaken if the Colts thought they’d hit rock bottom in the veteran quarterback carousel with Carson Wentz in 2021. Instead, Matt Ryan showed them what rock bottom looked like. Ryan’s poor play was the straw that broke the camel’s back for Frank Reich’s tenure as Indianapolis’s head coach.
After embarrassing themselves by hiring Jeff Saturday from ESPN to serve as their interim coach, the Colts hit the reset button this year. Indy is starting anew, hiring first-time head coach Shane Steichen, signing Gardner Minshew in free agency, and selecting rocket-armed uber-athletic quarterback prospect Anthony Richardson with the fourth pick in this year’s draft.
Their future might be bright. However, after a negative-138-point point differential last year, playing competitive ball would be a victory. But winning the AFC South is highly unlikely.
Houston Texans Odds To Win AFC South: (+800)
Like the Colts, the Texans filled their head coach vacancy with a first-time head coach, DeMeco Ryans, and spent the second pick in this year’s NFL Draft on quarterback C.J. Stroud. Yet, the Texans didn’t stop there with their draft splashes. They also traded up to the third pick in the NFL Draft to choose Will Anderson, giving them someone they hope is a cornerstone player for Ryans’s defense.
Still, the Texans were 7-26-1 in the previous two years, had a negative-131-points point differential in 2022, and had a negative-172-points point differential in 2021. So, they’ve been outscored by their opponents by 303 points since 2021. Yikes.
Furthermore, I sandbagged this nugget in Indy’s analysis, but a rookie quarterback who started more than half of his team’s games hasn’t led his team to a division title since Dak Prescott and the Cowboys won the NFC East in 2016. Thus, the Texans shouldn’t be viewed as a legitimate threat to win the AFC South this season.
AFC South Predictions & Best Bet
Best Bet: Jacksonville Jaguars Over 4.5 Regular Season Division Wins | +135 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Jaguars should comfortably be the best team in the AFC South and handle their business in the division. They have wiggle room for one loss while still going over 4.5 wins in the South Division. And I love the layout of their scheduling against their division foes.
The Jaguars play the Colts in Week 1 and Week 6, face the Texans in Week 3 and Week 12, and oppose the Titans in Week 11 and Week 18. As a result, they’ll catch the rebuilding Colts and Texans while their new head coaches and rookie quarterbacks are getting their feet wet in Week 1, Week 3, and Week 6.
If the Titans open the year slowly, they might take a look at rookie quarterback Will Levis when they face the Jags in Week 11 or, more likely, in their second meeting in Week 18. So, it’s not out of the realm of possibility all six games the Jaguars play in the division this year are against a rookie quarterback.
More Division Odds & Predictions
Check out Josh’s predictions from across the other NFL divisions: