Odds To Win AFC SouthJosh Bailey
The Houston Texans won the AFC South for the second straight year in 2016 and were the prohibitive favorites for the majority of the offseason to win a third straight division title until just recently when Tennessee joined them as +195 co-favorites to win the AFC South.
Now, as both teams get set to embark on the 2017 regular season, NFL betting enthusiasts want to know which playoff hopeful is offering the best value as the likely division winner. Thankfully, that’s where I come in with my expert analysis and pick on this season’s AFC South winner.
Let’s get started.
What Are The 2017 Odds To Win The AFC South?
Houston Texans +195
The Texans finished the 2016 season as the No. 1 team in the league in total defense while also finishing 11th in points allowed (20.5 ppg). Unfortunately, Houston also ranked an uninspiring 29th in scoring (17.4 ppg) thanks mostly to the inefficiency of former quarterback Brock Osweiler who failed miserably in his only year with the team after being signed to a lucrative deal to become their franchise signal-caller.
The good news for Houston is that somehow, they managed to trade Osweiler and his huge contract – and pulled off the steal of the entire NFL draft by nabbing former Clemson superstar signal-caller Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick.
While Watson likely won’t start under center to open the 2017 season, Houston will still be much better off at the quarterback position with veteran Tom Savage looking like really solid after replacing Osweiler in Week 15 last season. If the Texans can put some more points on the board in 2017, they’ll be tough to beat with their stout defense.
Tennessee Titans +195
The Texans may have won the division for the second straight year in 2016, but Tennessee tied their rivals by recording nine victories and could have been beaten the Texans out for the division title had starting quarterback Marcus Mariota not gotten injured in Week 15.
However, I love what Tennessee did in the NFL draft and think the Titans may have nabbed a pair of future superstars in former Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick and 2016 Jim Thorpe winner, cornerback/returner Adoree Jackson with the 18th overall pick.
The Titans finished the 2016 campaign ranked a solid 14th in scoring (23.8 ppg) and respectable 16th in points allowed (23.6 ppg) but need to improve a bit on the defensive side of the ball if they want to get where they want to go in 2017. Still, thins are looking up for the Titans heading into the new season and I believe the sky’s the limit for franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota and the Titans.
Indianapolis Colts +265
Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts put up a solid 25.7 points per game to rank eighth in scoring in 2016, but finished 8-8 for the second straight season, mostly because of a defense that ranked a discouraging 30th overall – and in the bottom third in every other significant defensive statistical category.
While Indianapolis did a really good job of addressing their defensive needs by drafting a trio of defensive players with their first three picks in the draft, their success in 2017 will also be dependent upon franchise quarterback Andrew Luck staying upright and healthy. The bad news is that Luck has been out all offseason with an injury to his throwing shoulder that will likely cause him to miss Indy’s regular season opener if not their first few regular season games. With Luck leading the way, the Colts still look like they’re behind both Houston and Tennessee these days, but without him, they won’t have a chance.
Jacksonville Jaguars +630
The Jacksonville Jaguars may have gone 3-13 last season, but the good news is that their lack of success finally forced them to make some changes and I believe they did a really good job of doing just that.
I love Jacksonville’s addition of former head coach Tom Coughlin as their head of football operations and his ensuing hiring of former Bills head coach and Jags assistant head coach Doug Marrone to replace former head coach Gus Bradley.
I also like the Jaguars drafting of running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the draft, tackle Cam Robinson in the second round, but Jacksonville has already made one huge mistake this offseason in my mind. By not jettisoning underachieving quarterback Blake Bortles when it’s clear he’s a bust after being picked third overall in the 2014 NFL draft, the Jags have slowed down their rebuilding process and will now need to find a new franchise signal-caller after the upcoming 2017 season.
While I’m expecting the Jags to be a bit better – and a lot different kind of team under the Coughlin/Marrone leadership, Jacksonville has far of a way to go to challenge for the division title this coming season after finishing the 2016 season ranked 25th in scoring (19.9 ppg) and an identical 25th in points allowed (25.0 ppg).
Your AFC Winner Is:
The AFC South is arguably the toughest division to predict heading into 2017 seeing as how Houston and Tennessee both recorded an identical number of wins last season and both made some nice offseason improvements. While I generally pick the team with the better defense to get it done, I believe 2017 will be the year that Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans make their breakthrough. The Titans have one of the best rushing attacks in the league and gave Mariota a big-time weapon by drafting Corey Davis. After coming up just short a year ago, I’m going with the Titans to narrowly beat out the Houston Texans for the AFC South division title in 2017.
Pick: Tennessee Titans