AFC South Predictions 2024: Division Winner Odds & Best Bet

Dec 31, 2023; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) jogs off the field after the game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium.
Image Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The AFC South Division was decided in Week 18 last season. The Jacksonville Jaguars came into 2023 as the favorite. However, they collapsed, missing the playoffs entirely while the upstart Houston Texans and feisty young Indianapolis Colts battled for the division title. 

Can the Jaguars rebound? Will the Texans fall into the same fate as Jacksonville after their AFC South title? The Colts nearly won the division, even with backup quarterback Gardner Minshew leading them for most of the season. Can they take the next step? 

The AFC South is an exciting division. Furthermore, betting on the division winner might not be the best bet if everything clicks. Let’s dig in deeper.

AFC South Odds

  • Texans +105
  • Jaguars +270
  • Colts +330
  • Titans +800

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of May 29.

Houston Texans to win the AFC South (+105)

The Texans nailed it last offseason, securing DeMeco Ryans as their head coach, Bobby Slowik as their offensive coordinator, rookie franchise signal-caller C.J. Stroud, and rookie Will Anderson as a standout on the defense. They seemingly have the cornerstones in place and made aggressive moves in the offseason to bolster the roster and take advantage of Stroud’s rookie contract, including trading for Stefon Diggs and Joe Mixon and signing Danielle Hunter. 

According to Pro-Football-Reference, Houston had a positive 24-point point differential, which was only the sixth-best mark in the AFC but the best in the AFC South. However, they had Pro Football Focus’s (PFF’s) eighth-highest overall grade. Per FTN Fantasy, the Texans were 12th in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). 

The Texans were expected to struggle last year. Instead, they were an average to above-average team in the regular season and even won a playoff game. They appear to be an ascending club with a lot going for them entering Ryans’s and Stroud’s second seasons as head coach and at quarterback, respectively. 

Jacksonville Jaguars to win the AFC South (+270)

The Jaguars were a popular Super Bowl sleeper last season after they won a playoff game and had a competitive showing in a loss to the eventual Super Bowl champion Chiefs in the 2022 Divisional Round. They got off to a good start, winning seven of their first nine games before their bye in Week 9. The Jaguars were crushed by the 49ers in Week 10 but rebounded with back-to-back wins.

Sadly, it was all downhill from there. Trevor Lawrence hurt his ankle late in a devastating overtime loss to the Joe Burrow-less Bengals. Jacksonville lost six of their final seven games, with their only win against the Panthers.

Even with the nightmare finish, the Jags had a positive 6-point differential, the second-best in the division. They were also 10th in total DVOA, the best in the AFC South. Yet, they were also 23rd in PFF’s overall grade. Much like their tale of two seasons, their underlying data was encouraging and discouraging, depending upon the source. They’re probably somewhere between their stellar start and brutal finish, which might have been good enough to win the division in prior years but likely won’t cut it with the Texans and Colts improving.

Indianapolis Colts to win the AFC South (+330)

The Colts overachieved last year, finishing with a 9-8 record despite a negative 19-point differential. They also navigated Anthony Richardson suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 5. The fourth pick in last year’s NFL Draft played approximately two and a half games as a rookie, missing more than half of the offensive snaps in two of his four starts. 

Richardson is an elite runner with a rocket arm. Nevertheless, he needs seasoning. According to PFF, Richardson had only 455 dropbacks in his collegiate career. In perspective, Caleb Williams had precisely 455 dropbacks for USC in 2023. How fast can Richardson convert his tools into production, if he can at all? 

The Colts re-signed Michael Pittman to a long-term deal, drafted Josh Downs in the third round in 2023, and selected Adonai Mitchell in the second round this year. They’ve assembled a wide receiver room of players with different skill sets to help Richardson. They also signed Joe Flacco, providing Richardson with an accomplished backup.  

The defense was average last year by basically every measure, whether looking at traditional stats or advanced metrics. This year’s first-round pick, Laiatu Latu, can help add pass-rushing juice. Still, Indy’s ability to win the division largely hinges on how quickly or if Richardson can develop. Again, his tools are drool-inducing, and the light can flip on for elite prospects at any given time. Still, Stroud has already demonstrated the ability to perform at a high level, making it unappealing to bet on the Colts to win the division. 

Tennessee Titans to win the AFC South (+800)

The Titans were fourth in the AFC South last year with a 6-10 record and a division-worst negative 62-point point differential. The poor showing cost Mike Vrabel his job. Tennessee has replaced him with first-time head coach Brian Callahan. The new 39-year-old head coach was Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator from 2019 through 2023. Callahan is a 180-degree turn from Vrabel.

The organization likely hopes their offensive-minded head coach can get the most out of their swole, rocket-armed second-year quarterback, Will Levis. The Titans picked Levis 33rd overall last year. He was brilliant in his professional debut in Week 8, lighting up the Falcons for 238 passing yards and four touchdowns on 29 attempts. Predictably, it wasn’t smooth sailing after an eye-catching debut. Levis had only four more touchdown passes and four interceptions on 226 pass attempts after his first start. According to Pro-Football-Reference, Levis was 32nd in completion percentage (58.4%), 24th in Quarterback Rating (84.2), and 31st in QBR (33.2) among 32 qualified quarterbacks.

The Titans signed free agents Calvin Ridley and Tyler Boyd to revamp one of the NFL’s worst receiving corps. DeAndre Hopkins is also in the mix as a high-caliber target earner. Tennessee also used the seventh pick in this year’s draft on offensive lineman JC Latham. This is undoubtedly an evaluation year for Levis, but the climb is likely too far for him to propel the Titans into contention for the division in a rebuilding season. 

AFC South Division Predictions & Best Bet

The Texans accelerated from a laughingstock into a division winner and a winner of a playoff game in their first year of the Ryans and Stroud marriage at head coach and quarterback. They’re not messing around with resting on their laurels and easing into the next step. Instead, they’ve made win-now moves to contend for a title.

Development isn’t always linear for quarterbacks, but Stroud starts at a high point after a historically good rookie campaign. Among qualified quarterbacks, Stroud was third in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (7.47 ANY/A), first in passing yards per game (273.9), sixth in Quarterback Rating (100.8), and 16th in QBR (57.5). If the Diggs addition to a talented pass-catching corps that already included Nico Collins, Tank Dell, Noah Brown, and Dalton Schultz doesn’t result in a chemistry or locker room headache and helps Stroud develop further, Houston’s offense can hang with anyone. 

Meanwhile, per Sumer Sports, the defense was 15th in Expected Points Added per Play (-0.03 EPA/play). They were also 14th in defense DVOA. Ryan’s background is as a defensive coordinator, and Anderson, Hunter, and young cornerback Derek Stingley provide hope for the Texans to climb into the top 10 in defense this year. The Texans are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, and the +1600 odds are tasty. 

Best Bet: Houston Texans Super Bowl Champion | +1600 at FanDuel Sportsbook

More Division Odds & Predictions

Check out Josh’s predictions from across the other NFL divisions: