Expert Picks to win the AFC South
If you want to know which teams stand the best chance of bagging the division title in 2017, then look no further, we have some expert analysis on the existing betting odds to win the AFC South division just for you!
You may not know it, but the AFC South was one of the most competitive divisions in all of football a year ago with just one game separating the top three finishers. While the Houston Texans won the division for the second straight year, they were tied for victories by the blossoming Tennessee Titans while the Indianapolis Colts finished one game back.
Now, heading into the 2017, the AFC South looks like it’s going to be another tight race that comes down to the very wire!
Here’s a Closer Look at the Expert Picks to win the AFC South
The Favorite: Houston Texans +160
The Texans (9-7 SU, 6-9-1 ATS) won the AFC South last season, mostly because they have a phenomenal defense that ranked first overall, second against the pass, 12th against the run and 11th in points allowed (20.5 ppg). That’s the good news, combining this with the fact that Houston once again, is succeeding despite not having any kind of competent play from the quarterback position.
The bad news is that the Texans ranked a dismal 29th in total offense, an identical 29th in passing, a stellar eighth in rushing, but a pitiful 29th in scoring (17.4 ppg). Then again, there’s more good news that comes in the form of Houston landing what I believe is a true future superstar in former Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson with the 12th overall pick in the draft.
Watson is a special leader and has a chance to be great at some point in the near future. I also like veteran quarterback Tom Savage who should open the season as the starter under center. In addition to that, Houston has a pair of elite wide receivers in veteran DeAndre Hopkins and second-year wideout Will Fuller, although Fuller got the ‘dropsies’ during several games this past year.
Houston also has a very good running back in veteran, Lamar Miller who rushed for 1,073 yards in his first season with the team in 2016 and they added some power to pair with Miller by nabbing former Texas running back D’Onta Foreman in the third round. With the return of former Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt and continued growth of former No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, Houston looks like they’ll have a great chance to repeat as division champs in 2017.
Houston Texans Team Statistics
Offensive passing yards: 195.83
Defensive passing yards: 202.44
The Smart Pick: Tennessee Titans +180
For me, Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans (9-7 SU, 7-9 ATS) are the ‘smart’ pick to win the AFC South after racking up nine wins last year, even with Mariota going down with a season-ending injury in Week 15. The Titans finished the 2016 campaign ranked a solid 11th in total offense, and a stupendous third in rushing (136.7 ypg), although their 25th-ranked passing attack seriously needs an upgrade. Tennessee finished last season ranked 14th in scoring (23.8 ppg) and had one of the best drafts of any team in the league.
The Titans added gifted former Western Michigan superstar wideout Corey Davis with the fifth overall pick in the draft and nabbed stud cornerback/returner Adoree Jackson with the 18th overall pick. While Tennessee needs to improve a defense that ranked 20th overall and a dismal 30th against the pass, although they did play fantastic defense against the run to finish second in rushing yards allowed (88.3 ypg) while also finishing a respectable 17th in points allowed (23.6 ppg).
More importantly, Marcus Mariota is clearly a franchise signal-caller that looks like he’s poised for greatness moving forward as he enters his third year. Last season, Mariota completed an impressive 62.5 percent of his red-zone passes, and he’s never thrown a single red-zone interception in his two seasons (33 Tds, 0 INTs).
In addition to drafting Davis fifth overall, Tennessee also drafted a receiver in the third round and a tight end in the fourth while signing sure-handed veteran wide receiver Eric decker to help improve their passing attack. For me, the Titans are not only the ‘smart’ pick to win the AFC South in 2017, but they could be the favorites as well.
Tennessee Titans Team Statistics
Offensive total yards: 358.12
Average Score For: 23.81
Offensive rush yards: 137.31
Defensive total yards: 357.56
Offensive passing yards: 220.81
Defensive rush yards: 88.38
Average Score Against: 23.62
Defensive passing yards: 269.19
The Longshot: Jacksonville Jaguars +580
Jacksonville (3-13 SU, 8-8 ATS) was a complete and utter mess on offense last season as they finished the 2016 campaign ranked 23rd in total offense, 20th in passing, 22nd in rushing and 25th in scoring (19.9 ppg). That’s the bad news. The good news is that Jacksonville made a really smart hire by bringing in former head coach and two-time Super Bowl winner, Tom Coughlin to run their football operations.
The Jags then drafted powerful former LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the fourth overall pick in the draft and made a series of wise offseason additions by bringing in three new defensive starters in end Calais Campbell, cornerback A.J. Bouye and safety Barry Church.
While veteran tackle Branden Albert recently retired after signing the veteran in free agency, Jacksonville clearly has a new and improved mindset under Coughlin than they ever did under former head coach Gus Bradley.
Jacksonville needs to improve a defense that ranked 25th in points allowed last season (25.0 ppg) and they definitely need to part ways with mostly pitiful quarterback Blake Bortles, but overall, they’ve improved their chances for success exponentially this offseason, even if they are a really longshot to win the AFC South.
Jacksonville Jaguars Team Statistics
Offensive total yards: 334.94
Average Score For: 19.88
Offensive rush yards: 101.94
Defensive total yards: 321.69
Offensive passing yards: 233.00
Defensive rush yards: 106.44
Average Score Against: 25.00
Defensive passing yards: 215.25