- Tennessee Titans, coming off an 11-5 season, open as -150 favorites to win the AFC South Division in 2021
- Indianapolis Colts (+125) could move into the favorite role if they acquire a quality quarterback
- Read the story below for divisional odds and analysis as the NFL enters the offseason
The Indianapolis Colts and Titans were both 11-5 last season, including 1-1 against each other. The Colts, perhaps on the basis of a strong defense, were the preseason AFC South favorites last season.
The Colts’ +130 odds today reflects the reality that last season’s starting quarterback Philip Rivers has retired. Once the Colts settle on a replacement those odds will undoubtedly change, maybe significantly. If they land a higher profile quarterback, they could change places with Tennessee.
2021 AFC South Odds
Odds as of Feb.10 at FanDuel
Colts’ Potential Hinges on QB Acquisition
The Colts’ defense ranked eighth overall last season, according to Pro Football Reference. Their offensive line is strong. Indy’s collection of running backs and receivers is noteworthy.
But bettors won’t embrace this team until they know the identity of Philips’ replacement.
After missing out on Matthew Stafford, the Colts are reportedly looking at trading for Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz. The Colts have also been linked to free agents Mitch Trubisky, Cam Newton or Ryan Fitzpatrick, or maybe a trade for Matt Ryan or Derek Carr.
The Colts draft 21st, meaning they aren’t going to find a QB that will be NFL-ready any time soon.
QB Carousel Predictions (Week 1, 2021)
M. Jones: Vikings
— Dynasty Zoltan (@DynastyZoltanFF) February 9, 2021
Titans Are a Flawed Favorite
Thanks to Derrick Henry’s NFL-leading 2,027 yards rushing, plus quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s impressive season, the Titans had the NFL’s No. 11-ranked offense last season, according to lineups.com.
But the Titans were often disastrous on defense: the Titans’ defense ranked 24th in points allowed, 28th in overall yards allowed (19th vs run, 29th vs pass), and dead last in both sacks per pass attempt (3.02 percent) and third-down defense. Those are not the kind of defensive notations that you read about a division favorite.
Not surprisingly, the Titans are looking to improve their defense during this offseason.
The #Titans finished the regular season with an 11-5 record.
In 2021, do you think the #Titans will…
— JMart and Ramon (@JMartandRamon) February 3, 2021
Watson’s Trade Request Creates Uncertainty
The resignation of Houston Texans president Jamey Rootes Wednesday is symbolic of the cloud of uncertainty hanging this team.
Talented quarterback DeShaun Watson was reported to be unhappy with the team’s management and wants out. Reports say Watson wanted a say in the hiring of a GM and coach. That didn’t happen. The Texans hired a new general manager (Nick Caserio) and a new coach (David Culley) and now they might end up with a new quarterback.
If Watson is moved, this won’t be a step forward. It will be the acceptance that the team is starting over. The Texans were 4-12 last season. It’s difficult to remember that they qualified for the playoffs four of the previous five seasons.
Derek Carr is expected to be pursued by multiple teams via trade and could be involved in a trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, per @VinnyBonsignore pic.twitter.com/uAvx78szzM
— PFF (@PFF) February 3, 2021
Meyer Faces Tough Road in Jacksonville
Urban Meyer is a quality football coach, but he isn’t going to transform the Jaguars into a contender immediately.
Trevor Lawrence may be able to step into the starting quarterback role and put up numbers as impressive as those generated by Joe Burrow last season. But let’s not forget that the Bengals, despite the arrival of Burrow , were still 4-11-1 last season.
The Jaguars ranked 29th offensively and 31st defensively last season. This is a franchise that has won more than eight games in a season only once in the last 13 seasons. If you want to bet a long shot, don’t make it the Jaguars to win the AFC South.
The NFL’s 2021 waiver wire system restarted yesterday.
The Jaguars will own the top priority (followed by the rest of the draft order) on waivers through Week 3 of the 2021 regular season.
Good opportunity for Jacksonville to have the first chance at young talent to develop.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) February 9, 2021
Best Bet is Team With Best Talent
If you believe the Colts will land a QB, it’s hard not to believe they will win the division. The Colts are a skillful and improving team. Jonathan Taylor should be a 1,000-yard rusher next season. There’s no reason to believe the Colts won’t be a top 10 defensive team again next season. When it comes to giving up yardage, the Titans, Texans and Jaguars were all ranked in the bottom five last season. They aren’t suddenly going to become a strong defensive team.
Pick: Colts (+130)