26 Jun Free AFC South Odds
Free AFC South Odds | Expand The Boxscore’s Divisional Futures Series
The AFC South is home to two teams in playoff contention, one already eliminated from the playoffs, and the last is run by Bill O’Brien. One thing they all have in common? None are great. It will be interesting to find out what happens in 2020. (Lines from Draft Kings Sports Book)
Last Season: 10-6
2020 O/U: 7.5
In a league where having a good or a bad coach can be the difference, it is hard to make out what Bill O’Brien has been and will be. He has outlasted two general managers only to take over the job himself. He has made the playoffs on a regular basis yet has failed to produce once there. After trading DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round draft pick to the Cardinals to get David Johnson and a second-round pick, this may be the beginning of the end. Picking up David Johnson and his full salary is criminal enough. Moving Hopkins to do so is grand larceny by the Cardinals.
After making the move to get rid of Hopkins, the Texans tried to replace him with two mid-level receivers in Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Cobb had a bit of a resurgence in Dallas last season having 55 receptions for 828 yards and three TD. This still left him as only the WR 47 on the season for fantasy, five spots lower than his previous full season in 2017 when he finished as WR 42. There are injury concerns with Cobb, as well as Keke Coutee, so the slot role in Houston’s offense will could be a mash up of whomever is healthy.
On the outside, we have seen what Will Fuller can do. Again, it has only been done in spurts as his injury history is also well established. Fuller has not played more than 11 games in any season since his rookie year of 2016. It is amazing Deshaun Watson has been able to be as good as he is. Again, this was due to his ability to go to a top receiver in the league in Hopkins when things broke down. This security blanket is no longer there.
The run game was surprisingly solid in 2019. The duo of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson ran for 1,480 yards. Both of these players were last minute replacements coming onto the team last off-season. Many thought the season ending injury to Lamar Miller would have major negative ramifications. In fact, the team was better in 2019 than it was in 2018. The complimentary play of Hyde and Johnson, and the better offensive line play after the arrival of Laremy Tunsil from the Dolphins led to the uptick in production.
Deshaun Watson hides a lot of warts on an offense. If the Texans want to repeat as division winner, he will need to do so again. If he can use his arm to find Fuller and Kenny Stills down the field and match this with a run game close to what was last season, there is a chance the Texans do not lose a hold on the division. For this to be the case though, it is not just the offense which needs to be good. An aging defense needs to step up, too.
J.J. Watt started his career playing like a Hall-of-Famer. In recent years, back and arm injuries has limited him. He is still very good, but he is no longer elite. The Texans needed a player like Jadeveon Clowney opposite Watt. Clowney is disappointing as a pass rusher, but excels at stopping the run. Another trade saw him go to Seattle before the 2019 season. This helped the Texans defense to allow 4.8 yards per rush on the season. Whitney Mercilus led the team with only 7.5 sacks on the season. He was also second on the team with two interceptions.
This will be a difficult season for Houston. It will tell us how much longer Bill O’Brien may be in town. If he proves to us his moves were not a mistake, he will be there a long time to come. He may be there if it continues to fall apart because no one knows how the Texans operate.
Last Season: 7-9
2020 O/U: 0
In a 2019 season in which everything went wrong for the Colts, they finished with a record of 7-9. Andrew Luck retired two weeks before the season leaving Jacoby Brissett to take the reins of the team. He had some experience leading the team in 2018, but this was with a full complement of teammates surrounding him. During the 2019 season, he had to deal with not only a defense who was not as good, he also had to deal with T.Y. Hilton missing games. Losing the starting QB for the season and having the top pass catcher out is a recipe for disaster.
Philip Rivers is hoping to make a seamless transition from the L.A. Chargers to the Colts. The largest positive in his corner is his familiarity with the offense of Colts head coach Frank Reich having worked with him while with the Chargers for three seasons. As a pure pocket passer, Rivers will be happy to play behind such a good offensive line, one far superior to the trash line he leaves behind in Los Angeles. Despite throwing for 4,615 yards and completing 66.0% of his passes, Rivers was only able to throw 23 TD and a wretched 20 INT.
Playing in only 10 games, Hilton managed 45 receptions for 501 yards and five TD. This loss could have been minimized had rookie Parris Campbell not missed much of the season himself with a broken hand. Those injuries left Zach Pascal to double his career receptions and yardage in just one season. After having only 27 receptions in his career, he gathered in 41 last seasons for 607 yards and five TD.
The rush offense was better behind both Marlon Mack and Nyheim Hines. This was made easier with Quenton Nelson and Anthony Costanzo providing the meat of one of the top offensive lines in the NFL. With Constanzo re-upping this off-season to a two-year extension, the line should be just as elite in 2020. Jonathan Taylor is joining Mack and Hines in the backfield, providing competition and adding talent to a crowded backfield.
Coming into a scheme he is familiar with and to a coach he is comfortable with, Rivers will have one more chapter left in what is a Hall-of-Fame career.
The defense will also be better in 2020. After a 2018 rookie season in which he won the defensive rookie of the year award, Darius Leonard had his numbers drop across the board. In two less games played, his sacks went from seven as a rookie to five in his second year. His tackle numbers also dropped drastically going from 111 to 71 and his forced fumbles went from four to two. There should be more help on defense this season as the team traded for and signed DeForest Buckner from the 49ers.
If Malik Hooker is able to remain healthy and on the field, he will make Indianapolis regret not giving him the fifth-year option for the 2021 season.
With Michael Pittman Jr., the 6’4 receiver from USC being added to the receiver room, the offense has plenty of weapons. They will have the speed guy in Hilton, the underneath pass catcher in Campbell, and now the big body in Michael Pittman Jr. to go with tight end Jack Doyle inside the red zone. The offensive weapons are there for Rivers. If the defense can just be good enough, this is likely the division winner for the AFC South.
Last Season: 6-10
2020 O/U: 4.5
Nick Foles is now with the Chicago Bears, so it will be up to Gardner Minshew to build upon his solid rookie season. He had a lot of help in achieving this. If the Jaguars want to be anything close to mediocre, they will need to get great play out of those players yet again. One of those players is D.J. Chark, who parlayed his connection with Minshew into 73 receptions for 1,007 yards and eight TD. This also led the second-year receiver to his first pro bowl selection. On an offense lacking explosiveness, he and Leonard Fournette were the lone bright spots. A hyped-up season for Dede Westbrook never came to fruition and this showed in the team’s poor offensive performance overall.
If the Jaguars want to finish outside the basement in the division, Fournette will need to show more of the same in 2020 as he did in 2019. The dual-threat RB caught over 80 balls from Minshew and Nick Foles, and also ran the ball 265 times for 1,152 yards. Fournette is one of the true bell cow backs in the NFL when he remains healthy and motivated. This year, while his rushing totals will remain similar, his receptions are likely to come down a bit. The Jags has brought in Chris Thompson to handle the third-down/pass-catching back role for the team. He is not going to challenge Fournette for rush work but when on the field, he is one of the best third down backs in the NFL.
After the dismantling of the defense over the off-season, there will be a lot of scoring done against Jacksonville. The loss of Jalen Ramsey is mitigated a bit by getting C.J. Henderson in the draft. Add the losses of A.J. Bouye and Calais Campbell and the defense is lacking in star power. This could be even worse if Yannick Ngakoue gets his trade demands met as well. The only true star left on the defense would be Josh Allen, who after a great rookie season will need to be even better in 2020.
As much as many like Minshew, he can not do it alone. As with Allen on defense, this will be a tough road ahead, not just for the team on the field, but also for the coaching staff. If this season goes as bad as it could, David Caldwell might be gone along with Doug Marrone.
Last Season: 9-7
2020 O/U: 8.5
The Titans were one of the major surprises in the NFL in 2019. They finished the season 9-7 for the third season in a row, but the offense took a major step forward with the addition of Ryan Tannehill and the full season breakout of both Derrick Henry and rookie A.J. Brown.
Tannehill found the magic recipe for success once he took over for Marcus Mariota. The mobility he was able to show, despite ACL injuries to both legs in the past, added a new dimension to the offense. Mariota was given every opportunity to keep the job as starting QB, and now he playing for Las Vagas.
The Corey Davis experiment has not worked out well for the team. Davis will be playing without his fifth-year option picked up, making 2020 the most important of his short career as he looks for his next deal. The ascension of Brown was a much-needed boost and surprise. His 20.2 yards per catch led the NFL. A repeat of that number would be nice, but expect it to drop as opponents adjust to his level of talent shown. Tight end Delanie Walker was released by the team, giving Jonnu Smith an opportunity to have the impact expected from a tight end entering this point in their career.
If the team can finally get Corey Davis to play like the top 10 pick he was drafted as, and Adam Humphries can provide a slot presence in his second season with the team, the offense could again be firing on all cylinders.
The run game with Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis started slow and for Lewis, it remained so. Henry however took off. After gaining 237 yards in Week 17 to win the rushing title, Henry then ran through two great defenses in New England and Baltimore, not to mention eventual Super Bowl champs Kansas City to the tune of 446 yards on 83 carries. Henry averaged 148.7 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry in the playoffs.
Smartly, the team re-signed Tannehill to a long term contract while limiting their exposure to the risks at running back. After signing Tannehill for four seasons, the team extended the franchise tag to Henry, which he accepted. The team also brought in rookie Darrynton Evans to provide the pass catching needed out of the backfield. As good as Henry is, his 18 receptions in 2019 do not provide the needed threat level to keep defenses honest.
The biggest loss for the team is at right tackle. After not extending the fifth-year option to Jack Conklin, he signed as a free agent with Cleveland. The man hoping to fill this void is Dennis Kelly, a role player up to this point of his career. If he is unable to provide the needed protection, the team will turn to first-round draft pick Isaiah Wilson from Georgia. A true right tackle and a stellar player in college, Wilson is their right tackle of the future. They just hope to give him a chance to sit a learn a bit before throwing him into the fire.
On defense, the Titans look okay. They did lose Jurrell Casey in a trade to the Broncos. They also decided against re-signing Logan Ryan to the $10 million a year contract he was requesting. To account for the loss of Ryan, the team took a chance on Kristian Fulton in the second-round of the draft. Adoree` Jackson, Kenny Vaccaro and Kevin Byard along with Malcolm Butler and Johnathan Joseph provide an already stacked secondary for the Titans. If Fulton can come in and provide solid play, this could be one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
With Jeffery Simmons fully healthy this season and the addition of disappointing Vic Beasley though free agency, Tennessee will try to get to the opposing QB. If they are able to accomplish this task, the Titans could be well positioned to again reach the AFC title game.
This is a two-team race. The Colts and the Titans seem to have the best chance. Something which is shown in their futures odds.
The Titans have been 9-7 each of the past three seasons and there is a good chance they are once again. Career seasons from Tannehill and Henry, as well as a surge from A.J. Brown will be difficult to duplicate.
This regression should be enough for the Colts to take advantage of a relatively weak division. Philip Rivers, nearing the end of his career, is superior to what the team got from Jacoby Brissett. With the three-headed running back monster of Marlon Mack, Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines, the run game is as stout as their offensive line. Add the health of T.Y. Hilton and expected impact of rookie Michael Pittman Jr., and this team is ready to go.
The trust in the offensive line of the Colts as well as the potential of Rivers means the Indianapolis Colts should be right where they currently are. The Favorites to win.
Bet: Colts +110
Dominick is a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area. Playing fantasy football for more than 20 years and writing for more than five, he has a vast knowledge of both the NFL and fantasy football. Despite his being blind, Dominick is a consistent ranker amongst FantasyPros experts, and always strives to be better than last season. Follow him on Twitter @EnvisionFF and read his weekly Best Bets articles during the season.