Behind a better offensive line, the Colts are targeting first place in the AFC South and a return to the playoffs!
The AFC South is apparently this year’s trendy division for “Over” bettors, with all four teams seeing a rise in Season Win Total odds during the past month. The Colts are paying plus-money on a wager Over 9.5, just keep in mind that their line was 8.5 Over (-130) in June. Houston has jumped a half-game in preseason betting while the Jaguars own the biggest spike, from 6 Over (-130) up to 7.5 Over (-125).
Not to be left out, Tennessee supporters have driven the price on 5.5 wins from -130 (June), to -175 (July), to its current post at -190. Given that all four of these teams play each other twice each, it’s unlikely more than two hit thier inflated projections. The first challenge is narrowing your search. The second is making sure you didn’t already missed the train.
ODDS TO WIN AFC SOUTH (Now & Then)
Here is each team’s current odds to win the division along with their previously posted odds from early June, in parentheses.
The Colts have QB Andrew Luck back under center and veteran Frank Gore as their No. 1 running back. Sounds like a deja vu from last season, right? The exception this year is that Luck and Gore are protected by an O-Line that could get better as the season moves along; not progressively worse. Indy also has a slick set of wideouts in Ty Hilton and Donte Moncrief that will cause nightmares for opposing secondaries.
It looks like the Colts will need plenty of points to compensate for their subpar defense. Indy faces at least six teams this year with legitimate passing attacks and if the Colts continue to lack pressure on the pocket, they’ll continue giving up big numbers on D. Throw in matchups vs. an improved Jaguars squad and it suddenly makes sense why books are charging so much on the “Under”.
According to my research, Houston owns the best offensive line among AFC South teams and the Texans’ line is average at best. LT Duane Brown (quad) is a question mark but the team is hopeful he’ll be ready for Week 1. Brock Osweiler has done a good job learning the new offense and he has plenty of weapons. It helps that Houston opens with back-to-back home games vs. the Bears and Chiefs.
The watch will be on to see if QB Blake Bortles can tame the poor decision making that led to his league-leading 18 interceptions last season. Part of me thinks that HC Gus Bradley may have told his second-year starter to just let it loose — and the result was an incredible 35 passing touchdowns (up from 11 in his rookie year) — but bad habits can be hard to break.
Chris Ivory compliments TJ Yeldon in a run game that should take some pressure off the pass, but the O-Line is still a concern. Jacksonville’s defense certainly looks better and following a Week 4 bye, the Jags plays a vitally important seven-week stretch of games. By my estimates, this team could be sitting at 6-5 SU as the calendar flips to December. The value is gone on there SWT “Over” but 8-8 SU is my prediction for the Jags.
If there’s still a tackling dummy in this division it’s the Titans, but there’s a reason why they’re trending up with bettors. QB Marcus Mariota shows every sign that he’ll get better in his second year and the Titans helped improve his options with Rishard Matthews and Tajae Sharpe.
RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry provide a 1-2 punch of youth and experience in the ground game, too. If the Titans can somehow prevent such lopsided first-half scoring they may even be able to rely on the run a bit more, but doubling their win total of 2015 seems over optimistic. Lean “Under” here at plus-money.