This marks the last of eight articles profiling each NFL division in terms of over/under wins lines and odds on winning the division. For each of the previous articles, please click on one of the links below.
Maybe NFLbets stalled on publishing this one because we wearing seeking clarity on any one of the four teams of the AFC South before attempting to write up the “Over/Under Wins” and “To Win Division” NFL futures proposition bets.
But … nope. Each of the AFC South quartet looks at best flawed and at worst (for the NFL bettor) a complete unknown: The Jacksonville Jaguars lack a quarterback, the Houston Texans and offensive line. The Tennessee Titans will likely have the youngest roster in the league come Opening Day plus a new young head coach and offensive coordinator. The Indianapolis Colts ostensibly have Andrew Luck, but we’ve barely seen him since he took over the Colts starting QB spot from Johnny Unitas.
Clear as Mississippi mud, eh? NFLbets reckons we’re gonna have to go “first thought, best thought” on a much of this division, though surely at least one of these teams will hit some roadblocks along the way. The table on these prop bets looks like so.
|AFC South||O/U wins||to win div. (oper)||to win div. (current)|
Interesting to see that the NFL’s betting masses aren’t necessarily buying the sportsbooks’ BS on this one. Note the wide variance – despite a relative paucity of news – between the shifts in the “To Win Division” payouts on the Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts. Beginning the season with the same odds, the Titans have excited (well, a little bit anyway) NFL bettors with the prospect of what Mike Vrabel might do in his first-ever head coaching job with his new team. Meanwhile, clearly would-be wagerers reckon that even if Andrew Luck is instantly back at franchise QB levels, nothing is enough to help a team that was bottom-3 in points scored, points allowed, yardage gained and yardage allowed.
So putting the Colts’ win total over/under at 6½ is sheer evil – also not bettable unless your particular bookie lets you watch Luck’s opening game performance with a solemn promise not to move the line. In a seemingly balanced AFC South division, 7-9 is easily imaginable.
As for the Titans, the sportsbooks are starting these guys at 8. As a competitor in this division, I’d be quite concerned with the amount of knowledge of the competition Vrabel will bring, having served as defensive line and later defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans over three seasons. Armed with a pretty easy schedule outside of home games against the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots, Vrabel could simply crank it up against the South, go 6-0 against the division and bag an inside track to the AFC South title. NFLbets would say take the Titans to win over 8 games and even consider betting the Titans to take the AFC South at +350 – or anything comparable.
And now we come to hard part. What to do about the league’s top defense combined with a low-watt offense “powered” by a worst-5 NFL QB? What to do about a similarly badass D counterbalanced with the most exciting QB to hit the league since Cam Newton protected by tissue paper?
Look, NFLbets loves the 2018 Houston Texans – mostly. Their 20/1 odds to win the Super Bowl have been calling our credit cards direct for months. But that line…
Pro Football Focus captured the imaginations of talking heads and the internets alike by proclaiming the Texans to have the worst OL in football at the start of training camp. Not too surprising, considering that the Texans ranked 20th in run protection and a dismal 30th in pass protection by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. (By comparison, the statistically as brutal Colts OL was 18th and 32nd, respectively, in these categories.)
Worse yet, the single significant addition the Texas brain trust added to the roster this past offseason, third-round draft pick Martinas Rankin, a 2017 All-SEC lineman from Mississippi State, was listed as PUP from Draft Day through to August 20. We’ll have to figure that the Texans’ line can come together around Rankin by season’s end in order for this bet to pay out, but NFLbets is sticking with our first thought and wishing on DeShaun Watson’s potential utter dominance: Take the Houston Texans to win over 8½ games and take Houston to win the AFC South at anything over +100 as well.
When betting, one cannot figure for luck but, wow, did the Jaguars get the benefit of the karma in 2017. The Pythagorean Expectation (PE) stat demonstrates clearly how this team flew in the face of logic, ultimately producing the aesthetic monstrosity of a Blake Bortles-led offense in the AFC Championship Game. The Jags registered a whopping +3.03 in PE during the *16-game* regular season, nearly a full half-game better than the also inordinately lucky Los Angeles Chargers. With merely the regular bad breaks, the Jags are transformed from their 10-6 to 8-8 and Bortles is backing up Tannehill in Miami right now.
Yes, this defense is scary and yeah, defense wins championships yadda yadda yadda. Yet with the Tians and Texans both looking to improve in real terms on the 2017 outcomes, Jacksonville and their division-winning schedule feels like just around a .500 team to us. NFLbets says take the Jaguars to win under 9½ games.
NFLbets’ best bets for AFC South betting:
• Tennessee Titans over 8 wins; and
• Houston Texans over 8½ wins.
NFLbets’ recommendations for AFC South betting:
• Jacksonville Jaguars to win under 9 games; and
• the Texans and the Titans to win the division -- hedge accordingly.