AFC South Odds: Betting the Exact Order After Free Agency
AFC South Odds: Betting the Final Order After Free Agency
The league-wide free agent and trade frenzy probably isn't over, but as the dust settles and the calendar dives further into April, the month of the draft, it's come time to do some preliminary evaluations around where teams stand. This is not only the case for overall power rankings, either.
The race is all the way on for this year's division chases, and as a result, DraftKings went ahead and dropped betting odds on how each of the eight divisions could shake out. Odds are listed for each of the exact scenarios, listing the division winner at the top through the last-place finisher in fourth.
Let's dive into the AFC South and what it could ultimately look like at the season's end.
Top 5 Scenarios of AFC South Odds After Free Agency
|AFC South Exact Order||Odds|
|1st IND Colts/2nd TEN Titans/3rd JAX Jaguars/4th HOU Texans||+250|
|1st TEN Titans/2nd IND Colts/3rd JAX Jaguars/4th HOU Texans||+260|
|1st IND Colts/2nd JAX Jaguars/3rd TEN Titans/4th HOU Texans||+900|
|1st IND Colts/2nd TEN Titans/3rd HOU Texans/4th JAX Jaguars||+900|
|1st TEN Titans/2nd IND Colts/3rd HOU Texans/4th JAX Jaguars||+950|
In 2021, the AFC South was a tale of two divisions inside the division. While the Titans and Colts battled it out for playoff spots, and the Titans moved on to the playoffs with 12 wins and a division crown, the Texans and Jaguars won four and three games, respectively. For their efforts, they were rewarded with the first and third overall picks in the upcoming draft.
Though it's just April, it seems as though nothing has changed in the landscape of this division. Though the Colts have overcome the Titans as the favorites at +110 via DraftKings Sportsbook (+115 at other sportsbooks), Tennessee is a very close second at +130. Oddsmakers have given a 9.5-win total to both teams. The Colts edge out the Titans with -130 odds compared to -110 on the over.
In the bottom half, the Jaguars are favored to exceed a six-win over/under. They are +700 to improve enough to the point of winning the division, which cannot be said for the longshot Texans.
Houston, pegged with a 4.5-win total that they are anticipated to fall short, are +2500 to win the division. In exact order odds, they check in fourth in the top three scenarios and are fourth in six of the top eight. For them to somehow end up in second above two division foes, you have to go all the way down to +3500 odds -- the ninth-most likely finish, according to DraftKings.
It's hard to fathom Houston -- or even Jacksonville, for that matter -- doing much to completely overturn the division, but is there a path to one of the more improbable storylines becoming a reality?
AFC South Exact Order Value After Free Agency
|Odds||AFC South Exact Order|
|+950||1st TEN Titans/2nd IND Colts/3rd HOU Texans/4th JAX Jaguars|
After what started out as an uneventful offseason early on for the AFC South, the significant transactions got kickstarted with the massive contract secured by former Cardinals receiver Christian Kirk. On March 14th, the 25-year-old signed with the Jaguars for $72 million total and $18 million a year, but this acted as a dam that was let loose as the rest of the division followed suit with massive moves of their own.
For the Titans, their free agency was not flashy, though it was impactful. They cut receiver Julio Jones but maintained center Ben Jones, re-signed Harold Landry to a big extension, and brought in tight end Austin Hooper to be a middle-of-the-field threat for Ryan Tannehill. And when you step outside the strict bounds of free agency, their move to bring in Robert Woods from the Rams really solidifies their offseason as at least a B+ in my eyes. They've done enough to keep up with the Colts and maybe even exceed them as the frontrunners for the division. At least at slightly longer odds, they make a lot of sense as the top team in the top-four rundown.
At the same time, we're not selling the Colts and another successful season. They dealt Carson Wentz to the Commanders, but then turned around and made a trade to bring on Matt Ryan to be their new signal-caller. They also traded for edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue from Las Vegas, re-signed Mo Alie-Cox, and more recently signed veteran safety Rodney McLeod. They've been rather impressive by keeping a large core together yet improving in some key problem areas. After all, they were 20th in pass DVOA offensively and 17th in pass DVOA defensively a year ago.
The battle to stay out of the bottom of the division should and will likely come down to Jacksonville versus Houston. It could be as tight as coming down to their head-to-head matchups, but either way, there is noticeable value in betting on the Texans to finish third over the Jaguars. There's a lot of merit to it, as well.
The Texans parted ways with Watson, but with that, they decided on Davis Mills as the quarterback of their now (and possibly future), and returned six picks including three first-round selections (a first and fourth this year). They also re-signed standout defender Maliek Collins, as well as corner Desmond King, while they extended star receiver Brandin Cooks. What they add in the draft with picks 3 and 13 could be really telling for whether they are a better team than Jacksonville. If they make a significant addition to the offensive and/or defensive line, and follow with a receiver to further assist Mills' development, it's not difficult to envision a world in which they are better than the Jags on the offensive side of the ball.
Speaking of those Jaguars, they didn't just stop at Kirk's big-time extension. They're maintaining Cam Robinson on the franchise tag, signed guard Brandon Scherff, in addition to receiver Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. And on defense, they did even more by signing end Arden Key, corner Darious Williams, and linebacker Foyesade Oluokun. The latter two moves might ultimately move the needle in their favor, and far improve their 31st-rated unit last year, but I'm happy to bet against that because of the culture and still some questions on offense.
At +950 odds, this second-tier scenario doesn't produce the biggest payout, but the substitution of Tennessee at the top and Houston third ahead of Jacksonville, up against the most probable outcome, would result in an additional $700 on a $100 wager.
Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.