The AFC South isn’t going to be at the top of anyone’s list as the best division in the NFL, and it might have a hard time even making the list based on who’s most interesting. The general perception is that two of the division’s four teams—Tennessee and Jacksonville—can be ruled out of the world of competitive football before the season even starts.
After that it’s Houston, who has a legion of doubters regarding its big-game moxie, and Indianapolis, who has to overcome its own doubters about whether they had a magic carpet ride in 2012 that won’t last into 2013.
The Las Vegas betting odds for the AFC South reflect this general perception of the division. Houston is an overwhelming favorite at 5-9, but the Texans aren’t the trendy Super Bowl pick they were in 2012, including here at TheSportsNotebook last August.
Indianapolis is slotted second, with its betting odds at 11-5—although that’s not an 11-5 that should be mistaken with the Colts’ won-loss record last season. The same bookmakers set this team’s Over/Under win prop at a conservative 8.5.
Tennessee and Jacksonville are big longshots, even to win a small four-team entity with no one the betting markets are in love with. The Titans are a 15-2 bet to win the AFC South, with the Jaguars at 30-1.
The NFL analysis at the links below goes through each team and measures them against their Over/Under win number. As to who I’d pick to win this division straight-up, that’s easy—the choice has to be Houston. I’m on board with the skeptics regarding Indy, and don’t see much life in Tennessee or Jacksonville.
But I am used to being wrong, and as the Texans article makes clear, I’m not all-in on Houston the way I was a year ago. If I were at a betting window, I could see taking a flier on both the Titans and Jags. Strange things happen in the NFL, this is the kind of division they happen in, and the odds are ripe enough to be able to take two teams.