The AFC South in 2020 was the story of the haves and the have-nots. While the Titans and Colts found themselves in the playoffs, the Jaguars found themselves with the first overall pick and the Texans are now in complete disarray for the future. Despite successes from the top teams, the division saw a huge shakeup in the 2021 offseason, with changes at quarterback for three of the four teams and other major roster changes.
This page will serve as a guide to betting the AFC South throughout 2021, complete with 2020 results, the outlook on 2021, past division winners, and where to bet on the division. Before all of that, a strong word of advice: shop around. Just because FanDuel offers Tennessee at +110 doesn’t mean everyone will; a few extra minutes of looking around could pay off big time.
AFC South odds
2020 AFC South results
The Tennessee Titans claimed their first division crown since 2008 by edging out division-rival Indianapolis. Mike Vrabel and then-offensive coordinator Arthur Smith pieced together one of the most lethal and efficient offenses in the NFL behind the strongest run game and a dangerous vertical game. Derrick Henry led the league with a whopping 378 carries (Dalvin Cook was second with 312) and became just the eighth running back to ever record 2,000 yards in a season. On top of that, Ryan Tannehill was the second-most efficient quarterback in the NFL (behind Aaron Rodgers) and tossed 33 touchdowns. The defense was objectively bad, but the offense raised to new levels of dangerous. The Titans were bounced in the opening round of the AFC Playoffs by the Ravens.
Very nearly the division champions, the Indianapolis Colts were also bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the Bills. It was the first and only season that Philip Rivers quarterbacked the team, becoming the seventh different starting quarterback for Indy in seven straight seasons. The team was defined by a stacked secondary– led by Julian Blackmon and Kenny Moore– and a strong linebacker corps, led by Darious Leonard. Rookie back Jonathan Taylor also exploded onto the scene, establishing himself as a future star. Despite the moderate success, the Colts seemed to be on a lower level than the rest of the AFC Playoff field.
Things in 2020 could have been worse all things considered for the Houston Texans. Things beyond 2020, though, have spiraled to historic levels of dismal. Coming off four division titles in five years, the Texans flopped hard. Defensively, they were a mess, allowing a blistering 5.2 yards per carry. Even star Deshaun Watson struggled to find targets to throw to after DeAndre Hopkins bolted for the Cardinals in the offseason. They finished with one of the most wins below projected in the league and missed the playoffs. At least they had the third overall pick to look forward to, right? Not exactly– the Miami Dolphins owned that pick.
The Jacksonville Jaguars were always expected to compete for the first overall pick and the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes. Week 1, Gardner Minshew and the Jags came out swinging, unseating Indianapolis and putting the nation on notice. After that Week 1 upset win, Jacksonville dropped 15 straight games and won the first overall pick in the draft. Undrafted rookie back James Robinson had a historic season, picking up over 1,000 yards and looking like a future star. That is, until new head coach Urban Meyer drafted his replacement in 2021.
2021 AFC South outlook and predictions
What could be more intimidating than having the best running back in the NFL and one of the biggest homerun threats in A.J. Brown? Adding All-Pro Julio Jones to the roster. Despite losing Smith to a head coaching job, the Titans are expected to be one of the most lethal offenses in the league this season. They also made some seriously-needed upgrades to their defense, including Bud Dupree and Denico Autry. Things are looking up for Tennessee in 2021 as they continue to pursue a Super Bowl window that isn’t getting any wider as time moves on. Like last season, the Titans () are deadlocked with the Colts on odds tables for the division favorite.
For as many moves as the Titans made to upgrade their team, the Colts have matched them step-for-step. As mentioned, Denico Autry bolted for Tennessee, so Indianapolis traded stud pass rusher Kwity Paye in the first round of the draft. They also bolstered their strong offensive line with Eric Fisher to help protect newly-acquired quarterback Carson Wentz – the fifth different player to start at quarterback for the Colts Week 1 since 2014. Wentz is reunited with his former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who led Wentz to a near-MVP and the Eagles to a Super Bowl in 2017. The Colts () continue to battle on odds tables for the top spot.
Jacksonville has turned a page. In comes Urban Meyer as head coach and Trevor Lawrence as the franchise quarterback. Lawrence is the most highly-touted prospect since Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning, both of which landed in the AFC South. Does he have what Luck and Manning had? Time will tell.
As mentioned, nobody in the NFL has had a more disastrous offseason than the Houston Texans. Deshaun Watson was accused of multiple sexual assaults, leading most to expect him to miss the 2021 season entirely. The Texans also sent J.J. Watt packing, passed on several reputable coaching candidates for what was described as a Jack Easterby pick, and the organization fired respected staff members for no reason other than “culture.” To add insult to injury, their first draft pick didn’t come until the third round and Houston has zero first round picks in the foreseeable future. It’s a ship with a directly-downward trajectory.
Past AFC South division winners
How to bet on NFL division winners
To reiterate advice given here, shop around before diving headlong into the first bet you see; different outlets offer different odds and a minute or two of your time could result in some more money coming your way.
When reading an odds table, there’s several numbers of note. The first is the odds, which tells you who is favored (lower numbers are favored) and how much a successful bet would earn you. For example, a $100 bet on Indianapolis (+105) would win you $105 with a total payout of $205. Next is the handle, which tells you what percentage of the total amount bet on the AFC South division winner each team commands. For example, the Texans have 5% of the handle– meaning 5% of all money bet on the AFC South winner has gone to the Texans. Last is the percentage of bets, which refers to the number of bets– not the amount– wagered on each team. The Titans have 49% of all bets, which doesn’t reflect how much was bet (the Titans have 68% of the handle, meaning larger betting amounts are being placed on the Titans).
NFL division betting previews
|AFC East||NFC East|
|AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC South||NFC South|
|AFC West||NFC West|