The Jacksonville Jaguars look like the best team again. But Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans should push them for the South title.
The Tennessee Titans could be a dark-horse pick to take the division crown. Of course, much of this will depend upon Marcus Mariota living up to his potential.
Andrew Luck returns for the Indianapolis Colts after not playing since 2016. This is likely a year to work himself back into shape, because the Colts don’t look overly competitive.
You can check out the odds on each of these teams below along with analysis on how they figure to do this season.
2018 Team Odds on Winning AFC South
Here are the GTBets odds on each AFC South team. Note that these odds are subject to change and may be removed and added leading up to the regular season:
- Houston +200
- Indianapolis +450
- Jacksonville +160
- Tennessee +390
2018 AFC South Team Previews
Jacksonville Jaguars (+160)
Jacksonville’s offense had a very good season under offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett. He utilizes a run-heavy approach that features Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon. Fournette has All-Pro potential when healthy, while Yeldon is one of the league’s best backup tailbacks.
The team’s offensive fortunes will rest on how QB Blake Bortles performs. He had his best season in 2017, but has been unpredictable throughout most of his career.
The Jaguars’ defense will once again be the strength of this team. They held opposing QB’s to a league-low 68.5 rating.
Defensive linemen Calais Campbell, Malik Jackson, Dante Fowler, and Yannick Ngakoue are a big reason for this, because they combined for 42.5 sacks. Jacksonville also features the league’s best cornerback duo in A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey.
Jacksonville has a much tougher task this year since they face seven 2017 playoff teams. However, their defense and running game are good enough to help them to earn another playoff bid, if not a second straight division title.
Houston Texans (+200)
The Clemson product is back once again, though, and looking to pick up where he left off. WR DeAndre Hopkins continues to be among the best at his position. However, the Texans don’t have much else to work with at the skill positions.
Houston’s defense gave up an NFL-worst 27 PPG last season. Much of this can be blamed on injuries, with both LB Whitney Mercilus and DE J.J. Watt missing 11 games. As long as they return healthy, then DE Jadeveon Clowney won’t be constantly double-teamed.
The pass rush must work, because the secondary isn’t very good. But signing former Arizona safety Tyrann Mathieu will provide an upgrade in the secondary.
The Texans look like a definite AFC South contender as long as they stay healthy. However, they can’t do it if Watt, Mercilus, and Watson get injured again.
Tennessee Titans (+390)
QB Marcus Martiota regressed in 2017. Tennessee responded by bringing in Matt LaFleur as the new offensive coordinator. LaFleur should be up to the task of improving Mariota after working under offensive stalwarts Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay.
The Titans have a good offensive line and run game. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis will be a powerful 1-2 combo at tailback.
Tennessee also has a new defensive coordinator in Dean Pees, who manned the same position for Baltimore the past six years. He’ll guide a unit led by DT Jurrell Casey, CB Malcom Butler, CB Logan Ryan, CB Adorre Jackson, and S Kevin Byard.
Overall, the Titans have good pieces to work with on offense and defense. However, they may be valued a bit high at +390. Too much is riding on whether Mariota can finally be the player this franchise has expected.
Indianapolis Colts (+450)
However, the team failed to bolster a receiving corp that offers little beyond T.Y. Hilton. They may rely more on the run game more than at any point in Luck’s tenure. Promising young players Marlon Mack and Jordan Wilkins are the top tailbacks.
New defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus is walking into an impossible situation based on the lack of talent. He’s hoping that his 4-3, zone-based scheme can make up for the team’s deficiencies, although it’s unlikely.
Safety Malik Hooker and defensive end Jabaal Sheard will do what they can to anchor a defense that ranked 30th in both points and yardage allowed.
Former GM Ryan Grigson did a terrible job of constructing this roster. And that will haunt them going into 2018.
Luck is an elite quarterback when healthy, which should net the team a few wins. But don’t look for Indy to be anywhere close to the top of the division.