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NFL Futures: Best Bets to Win AFC South (2020)

by May 21, 2020

The released NFL schedule allows bettors to start digging into futures like win totals and division winners. Knowing which games are on the road and which are at home gives us a clearer picture to analyze in terms of projecting wins and losses. While division winner futures do not ask for a win total, the only way to successfully bet them is by looking at each team’s schedule to gauge potential records.

The AFC South projects to be one of the more tightly contested divisions in football. There does not appear to be a true front-runner, and three teams could finish within one win of each other. Inevitable injuries may play a large part in what order they finish, but at this point in the offseason, we can only evaluate team rosters and schedules. While bettors can simply choose the book with the best odds after deciding on a potential winner, let’s get started with the odds listed at FanDuel.

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Indianapolis Colts (+135)
It is a bit unfortunate that the Colts are listed as the favorites. There could have been a tremendous value in a Colts play if Vegas had the Tennessee Titans or the Houston Texans ahead of them. The Colts made some massive offseason additions to their roster and filled most of their roster holes in convincing fashion.

Trading their first-round pick for DeForest Buckner was a masterclass in how a team should use cap space and draft capital when looking to take that next step. Adding the supremely talented running back Jonathan Taylor in the second round will propel their offense to the next level. If that was not enough, they spent their other second-round pick on USC receiver Michael Pittman. The Colts’ coaching staff is already gushing about Pittman, who will finally provide the number two receiver that has eluded them since trying to put Donte Moncrief and Phillip Dorsett in that role. New secondary additions Xavier Rhodes and T.J. Carrie are both productive players who will be leaned on to fortify the cornerback position.

Tennessee Titans (+165)
Despite making the AFC Championship Game last season, the Titans are not currently listed as favorites to win the AFC South. They are close enough in odds to the Colts to believe that there may have been little to no separation between the two teams when the lines were initially listed. Sharp action has likely poured in on the Colts, which may have led to them being pegged as the current favorites.

The Titans are going to be hard-pressed to sneak up on teams this year, as opponents will spend their whole week planning to stop Derrick Henry and the play action. While the Titans made some impact additions on the defensive side, they may have actually taken a step back on offense. After losing All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin in free agency, they will be forced to turn to rookie Isaiah Wilson. Former Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker, still a free agent, is not expected back in 2020. The Titans’ hopes and dreams rest on the large legs of Henry, but Ryan Tannehill must continue to play at the highest level of his career for the Titans to avoid regression. 

Houston Texans (+300)
The Texans listing as third in the odds is quite the surprise. Losing DeAndre Hopkins is a major blow, but their offense may be more balanced after adding David Johnson, Brandin Cooks, and Randall Cobb. However, their defense continues to present enough question marks that the Texans will have to simply outscore opponents if they hope to make the postseason. Deshaun Watson is good enough to lead them to the division crown, but the more likely scenario is the Texans fighting for an 8-8 or 9-7 record. 

Jacksonville Jaguars (+2000)
The Jacksonville Jaguars are officially on the “Tanking for Trevor” watch. They will not have to do much to have one of the worst records in the AFC, and they may actually push for the worst record in the NFL without really trying. Minshew Mania is real, but thinking he is the long-term answer at quarterback suggests the problems in Jacksonville did not solely rest at the feet of former team president Tom Coughlin.

The Jaguars made some impact additions in the 2020 NFL Draft, most notably selecting cornerback C.J. Henderson, edge-rusher K’Lavon Chaisson, and versatile wide receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. However, the Jaguars have lost Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Dante Fowler, and A.J. Bouye over the last year, and they are also set to lose Yannick Ngakoue once a trade can be agreed upon. Jacksonville likely needs a year or two of draft assets to get back to a point where it can crack the .500 mark. The +2000 odds are great, but there is little to no chance the Jaguars win the AFC South. 

Conclusion
As posited above, it is very likely that an injury to a key player or two helps decide the AFC South. Indianapolis, Tennessee, and Houston all project to finish the season with eight to 10 wins. Their head-to-head battles are likely to play a strong correlative role in determining which of these teams wins the division, and which are left fighting for one of the expanded wild-card spots.

The Colts look like the best team on paper, and they also have the depth on both sides of the ball to withstand a major injury to almost any position. Tennessee could run roughshod over the entire NFL if Henry is still in peak form and Tannehill keeps playing at a level higher than he has at any point in his NFL career. However, asking for both of those things to happen over the entire regular season may be asking a little much. 

Houston is the wild card of the bunch. It could finish with a 6-10 record or shock the division at 11-5 or 12-4. Eight to 10 wins is more likely, as the defense is liable to lose at least two games. The Texans have the most inherent value, as their +300 odds suggest just a 25 percent chance of winning the division. The true percentage is likely closer to 30, which means that the odds should be listed at +233 or lower. If playing with partial unit plays, Houston is worth a taste. However, if you are chasing bankroll for the postseason and looking for the surer bet with a higher probability of paying out, then wager on the Colts.

The Colts’ odds seem destined to become less favorable as the offseason wears on, so be sure to check out our live odds comparison page before locking in this one. In fact, despite initially looking to FanDuel to place action on this future, the live odds page revealed better odds on Indianapolis at Caesars Sportsbook, where the Titans are actually listed at the favorites. Caesars is the book for Indianapolis bettors (+150) while Titans backers can go to FoxBet (+180)

Pick: Indianapolis Colts (+150)

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Raju Byfield is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Raju, check out his archive and follow him @FantasyContext.

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