The AFC South may be the division with the most question marks in 2023. The Jacksonville Jaguars return as the defending winners, with Trevor Lawrence coming off a strong season. Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill, and Mike Vrabel were the #1 seed in the AFC in 2021, but an injury-plagued 2022 left them at 7-10.
Anthony Richardson comes in as the fourth overall pick to lead a Colts team that has been faced with a quarterback carousel since Andrew Luck left to backpack all over Europe. CJ Stroud was the second pick in this year’s draft. He’ll be paired up with third overall pick, linebacker Will Anderson as they try to turn around a Texan team that is on their third head coach in as many years.
A case can be made for all of these teams to win this division, even if it’s a long shot like the Texans. Let’s dive into the odds, what the season expectations are for each team and who is worth betting on to win the division, or any other enticing props relating to these teams.
AFC South Divisional Odds, Picks, and Props
AFC South Division Winner Odds (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Jacksonville Jaguars -165
Tennessee Titans +425
Indianapolis Colts +550
Houston Texans +800
Jacksonville Jaguars (-165 AFC South) / Win Total 9.5 (O/-150 U/+130)
After going 1-15 in 2021 and 3-14 in 2022 and selecting #1 in the NFL Draft both seasons, Doug Pederson took over last season and led an immediate turnaround. As Trevor Lawrence enters his third season as the team’s quarterback, the biggest question is whether Lawrence will take that next step.
Calvin Ridley joins the team after his suspension. Christian Kirk proved to be a top wide receiver last season, Evan Engram returns on the franchise tag, and Travis Etienne returns as the team’s main back.
The odds clearly show this is the Jaguars’ division to win. Lawrence is supposed to be the next chosen one, and he’s certainly shown flashes of that so far.
Doug Pederson against two rookie quarterbacks in the division should bode well for this team. The price for the division winner and the over-win total isn’t very appealing. So I will go to the alternative lines that DraftKings offers and bet on the Jaguars’ continued improvement.
Pick: Jaguars Over 11.5 Wins (+210)
Tennessee Titans (+425 AFC South) / Win Total 7.5 (O/+110, U/-130)
As mentioned above, it was just two seasons ago when the Titans were the top dogs in the conference, and head coach Mike Vrabel was threatening to cut his dick off to win the Super Bowl. AJ Brown was traded away, Ryan Tannehill got hurt, and the Malik Willis experiment didn’t go well. All of that, and the Titans still managed to go 7-10 and settle for second place in the division.
Now heading into 2023, the questions abound, will Tannehill look decent, or does rookie Will Levis enter at some point? Can Derek Henry keep up his bruising pace as a run-you-over beast of a running back? Will Treylon Burks have his breakout season, and who else might catch passes for the Titans?
Maybe Deandre Hopkins will decide to come to Music City. All of these things make the odds for this team pretty spot on. Things could go well or fall apart very quickly. Based on the odds, I will bet on this team that seems to find a way year in and year out to get some results. In case Jacksonville struggles or the Titans return to 2021 form, I can’t pass up these odds.
Picks: AFC South Winners (+425)
Over 7.5 Wins (+110)
Indianapolis Colts (+550 AFC South) / Win Total 6.5 (O/-135, U/+115)
Andrew Luck retired right before the 2019 season, and this team has been in limbo ever since. Seven different quarterbacks have started under center in the last four seasons. The team seemed to just be a quarterback away, enter Philip Rivers, Carson Wentz, and Matt Ryan. None of them were the guys that could get it done.
Now the Colts have turned to the draft and the 21-year-old out of the University of Florida Anthony Richardson. Richardson is the rookie with the widest range. He’s got a lot to work on, but he also has the most potential star power of the rookies.
Like the Titans, the Colts are only a year removed from a winning record. In 2021 the Carson Wentz-led Colts went 9-8, just missing the playoffs. Last season they quickly realized Matt Ryan wasn’t the answer and pieced the position together for a 4-12-1 record.
Shane Steichen has taken over as head coach, so the Colts have a hill to climb ahead of them with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach. I think 2024 will be the year to go all in on the Colts. For 2023 though, I think the over is achievable, and Richardson will be a fantasy football monster.
Pick: Colts Over 6.5 Wins (-135)
Houston Texans (+800 AFC South) / Win Total 6.5 (O/+110, U/-130)
In 2019 with Deshaun Watson at the helm, the Texans went 10-6, and this team looked poised to be a threat for years to come. Unfortunately for the Texans, the only threat was off the field. Since then, four wins have been the maximum for this Texans team as they struggle to find an identity. With Watson gone and their third new head coach for the third straight season, the Texans decided to attack in the 2023 Draft.
After drafting their franchise quarterback in CJ Stroud from Ohio State University with the second pick, the Texans traded back up to the third pick to select Alabama Edge Will Anderson Jr to be the quarterback of the defense. However, the odds makers don’t see this being a quick turnaround for the Texans. They are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the worst odds of winning the Super Bowl (+20000). Similar to the Colts, the future’s looking brighter for Texans, just not this year.
Pick: Texans Under 6.5 Wins (-130)
AFC South Prop Bets
Exact Finishing Order: Jaguars, Colts, Texans, Titans (+1300) or Titans, Colts, Jaguars, Texans (+2000)
Here are the fun ones to bet on! These are the two most attractive ways to bet the exact finishing order. Initially, the one that stood out to me the most was the Titans, Jaguars, Colts, and Texans (+600), but it makes more sense to just take the Titans to win at +425 for a little smaller price. These are both longer shots, but the pathway is there for either of them.
For the first one, the Jaguars are the favorites to win the division, so that’s the chalk. I made a case for the Colts to go over, and I’m not expecting much from the Texans, but if the Titans completely derail and fall apart, then this order isn’t that far-fetched. At 13/1 odds, it’s worth a flier.
For the second scenario, you’ll likely need an injury to happen, but guess what happens a lot in the NFL? If Lawrence has a rough season or gets an injury, the Jaguars will probably still be decent, but it would be the Titans’ division to take the Colts could finish one game in front of the Jaguars, and this one still cashes. We’re never rooting for injury, but when looking for the right price, you’ve got to consider everything.
Indianapolis Colts to Finish Third in Division (+200)
It’s simple, and it’s obvious, but it’s still at 2/1 odds. Based on how I see this division falling and the current odds, the third is the most likely place for the Colts to land this season. So I’m not going to overthink this one at all. Take the chalk and hopefully double my money!