The AFC South produced a pair of playoff participants a year ago. Now, as we get set for the upcoming 2018 regular season, one of the AFC South residents that didn’t make the playoffs in 2017 is expecting to contend, not only for division supremacy but for the AFC Championship as well. The other AFC South team that failed to make the playoffs last season has its franchise quarterback returning to action and looking to lift his team’s level of play after missing the entire 2017 regular season. Add it all up and the race for first place in the AFC South looks like it could be the best in all of football in 2018.
More importantly, if you’re looking to cash in on the season-long futures odds to win the AFC South, the expert betting insight that I’m about to provide could help you cash in big.
Now, let’s get started.
If you try to tackle @_fournette, you're gonna have a bad time. pic.twitter.com/eWayCLCHXH
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) August 19, 2018
Jacksonville Jaguars +175
Jacksonville was one of the biggest surprises in the entire NFL last season. Not only did the Jags put together a solid 10-6 SU mark last season to beat out Tennessee for the division title, but they also went 9-7 against the spread and won a pair of playoff games – including a huge road upset of Pittsburgh – to reach the AFC Championship game. Hell, not only that, but then they gave Tom Brady and the favored New England Patriots all they could handle in this contest before fading late to finish as conference runner-ups. Now, Jacksonville is entering the 2018 season looking to take another step forward in their evolution and I believe it very well could happen. The Jags finished sixth in scoring last season (26.1 ppg) and a stupendous second in points allowed (16.8 ppg) and those are numbers they look like they’ll come close to duplicating this coming season if you ask me. Jacksonville parted ways with receivers Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, but they also added Pro Bowl left guard Andrew Norwell in free agency, not to mention, they’ve got a ton of elite talent on the defensive side of the ball at all three levels. More importantly, I love their ‘old school’ style of play that features a bunch of power rushing from second-year back Leonard Fournette and some stout defense that routinely shuts their opponents down.
Houston Texans +190
Sure, Houston went 4-12 SU and 7-9 ATS last season, but at least they had a very good reason for their season-long struggles. The Texans battled injuries as much, if not more so, than any tea in the league last season. To make matters worse, they lost their best players on both sides of the ball in super-gifted rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson and former league MVP defensive end J.J. Watt. Now, with both stars back on the field – plus a handful of other gifted starters – the Texans are being looked at as a team that could challenge for the AFC crown. In six games with Watson as their starter, Houston averaged a stupendous 34.7 points per game, including a mind-boggling 39 points per contest in his last five starts. Houston also gets back starters, Christian Covington, nose tackle D.J. Reader and linebacker Whitney Mercilus after they all suffered season-ending injuries a year ago. If Houston stays healthy, they should contend for both, division and conference supremacy.
Tennessee Titans +300
The Tennessee Titans recorded back-to-back 9-7 seasons under former head coach Mike Mularkey, but it wasn’t good enough for him to keep his job. Now, the Titans are hoping that former Texans defensive coordinator Mike Vrabel can be the man to lead them to brand new heights, but I’m not so sure that’s going to be the case – or should I say – at least not in 2018. Franchise quarterback Marcus Mariota struggled mightily in 2017 by tossing a modest 13 TD passes and 15 interceptions. However, the good news is that the former Oregon star has risen to the occasion with a pair of outstanding efforts in his two career playoff appearances. Tennessee’s offense will feature young running back Derrick Henry with veteran DeMarco Murray now retired.
The Titans (8-7-1 ATS) are expecting and need a great season out of second-year wide receiver Corey Davis and they’ve got a three-time Pro Bowler in tight end Delanie Walker. Tennessee also looks to have upgraded their defense by acquiring linebackers, Rashaan Evans and Harold Landry in this year’s NFL Draft. Still though, something tells me that the Titans are poised to take a step backwards and I believe they made the wrong move by hiring Vrabel instead of an offensive coach that could really help Mariota grow.
Indianapolis Colts +575
The Indianapolis Colts went 4-12 last season, but they had a good reason with franchise signal-caller Andrew Luck missing the entire campaign with a mysterious shoulder injury the team kept shrouded in secrecy. Now, though, Luck is back and his presence alone should lift the Colts up from the depths of despair while helping them improve on a very solid 7-9 ATS mark from last season. I love Indy’s hiring of former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich and I believe his schemes will help, both Luck – and the Colts’ entire offense – reach their full potential in 2018 after they finished 30th in points scored last season. Unfortunately, Indianapolis has a lot of question marks at a handful of positions like running back, wide receiver and all over the place on defense.
I said it over and over prior to the 2017 NFL Draft. Former Clemson superstar Deshaun Watson should have easily been the top pick in that draft. While I’m expecting future greatness out of Watson and the Houston Texans, I’m going with Jacksonville as my pick to claim back-to-back division crowns.
Vice president of player operations Tom Coughlin knows what it takes to win in the NFL and he’s put together a team that can dominate defensively and pound their opponents with some smash-mouth football offensively. Last season’s experience was invaluable to the team and I believe they’re poised to challenge for the AFC Championship in 2018, making the Jaguars my pick to win the AFC South this coming season.