The Indianapolis Colts are looking to veteran quarterback Philip Rivers to lead them to their first AFC South divisional title since 2014. Photo by @Emdotleamy (Twitter).
- The Indianapolis Colts are narrow +120 favorites to finish atop the AFC South in 2020
- The +160 second-favorites, the Tennessee Titans look to build on last season’s playoff success
- After enduring major offseason changes, both the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars are predicted to struggle during the 2020 NFL season
The AFC South was once again among the most competitive divisions in the NFL last season, and more of the same is expected in 2020. Last year, it was the Houston Texans that led the way, edging out the Tennessee Titans to claim the division crown with a 10-6 record.
However, after a busy offseason, the Indianapolis Colts have emerged as the team to beat. They enter 2020 as +120 favorites in the NFL divisional odds. Will Philip Rivers lead the Colts to the Promised Land? Can David Johnson and Brandin Cooks fill the void left in Houston by the departure of DeAndre Hopkins? Will the stand-pat Tennessee Titans be able to build on last season’s stunning playoff success?
Here’s a look at the NFL South odds and the SBD NFL Win Probabilities for the division, along with predictions for the upcoming campaign.
2020 AFC South Odds and Totals
|Team||Division Odds||Win Total||SBD Win Probability|
Odds as of September 3, 2020.
- 2019 record: 7-9
- Points per game: 22.6 (T15th)
- Points allowed per game: 23.3 (18th)
- Yards per game: 327.4 (25th)
- Yards allowed per game: 346.8 (16th)
- Turnover differential: +2 (12th)
After taking a step back last season following the sudden retirement of quarterback Andrew Luck, the Colts kept busy retooling their roster during the offseason. With Jacoby Brissett unable to carry the squad back into playoff contention, Indianapolis opted for a veteran upgrade, inking Philip Rivers to a one-year deal.
Early observations from Colts camp:
— Philip Rivers likes throwing to TY Hilton
— The d-line just *looks*completely different with Buckner in the middle
— Kenny Moore back to his usual self, blowing up plays
— for the 100th time, don’t sleep on Marlon Mack just bc Taylor is here
— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 17, 2020
But perhaps the most important acquisition is defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Acquired from San Francisco for a first-round pick, and then signed to a four-year contract extension, Buckner bolsters a defense that surrendered 25 TD passes last season, including 11 over their final four outings.
In addition to Rivers, the Colts have bulked up offensively with the arrival of rookies Michael Pittman Jr. and Jonathan Taylor.
Colts Key Additions and Departures
|DeForest Buckner – DT||Bryan Hoyer – QB|
|Philip Rivers – QB||Eric Ebron – TE|
|Michael Pittman Jr. – WR||Joe Haeg – OL|
|Jonathan Taylor – RB||Chester Rogers – WR|
|Trey Burton – TE||Jonathan Williams – RB|
|Xavier Rhodes – CB||—|
|Sheldon Day – DT||—|
|Rodrigo Blankenship – K||—|
|Jordan Glasgow – LB||—|
While Indianapolis has definitely improved, they face a tough schedule in 2020, and will likely battle with Tennessee for the top of the division throughout the campaign. If this new group can gel quickly, 10 wins and a division title are in reach.
Predication: 10-6 (First)
- 2019 record: 9-7
- Points per game: 25.1 (10th)
- Points allowed per game: 20.7 (12th)
- Yards per game: 362.8 (12th)
- Yards allowed per game: 359.5 (21st)
- Turnover differential: +6 (9th)
Following a slow start last season, the Tennessee Titans steadily gained momentum before emerging as giant slayers in the playoffs, with upset victories over New England and Baltimore.
Derrick Henry Completely Dominated The Ravens! 😳 pic.twitter.com/5sKwslbvhw
— Clutch HD (@Vin7017) September 3, 2020
The Titans now return to action with the same group largely intact. QB Ryan Tannehill and rusher Derrick Henry lead a Titans offense that ranked fourth in the AFC in scoring last season. But like the Colts, the Titans face a daunting schedule in 2020, particularly early on, with October visits from Pittsburgh, Buffalo, and Houston having the potential of defining their season.
Titans Key Additions and Departures
|Vic Beasley – OL||Jack Conklin – OT|
|Kristian Fulton – CB||Jurrell Casey – DT|
|Isaiah Wilson – OT||Logan Ryan – CB|
|—||Wesley Woodyard – LB|
A stingy defense proved to be equally important to Tennessee’s success last season, particularly down the stretch, with the Titans limiting opponents to 14 or fewer points in three of their final four outings. If Tennessee can duplicate that effort this time around, and improve on their middling performance against divisional rivals that has marked the past two years, this squad will once again be in the thick of AFC playoff race.
Prediction: 10-6 (second)
2020 NFL MVP Odds Tracker
- 2019 record: 10-6
- Points per game: 23.6 (14th)
- Points allowed per game: 24.1 (19th)
- Yards per game: 362.0 (13th)
- Yards allowed per game: 388.3 (28th)
- Turnover differential: 0 (T15th)
The Texans have been the class of the AFC South in recent years, claiming the divisional crown in four of the past five seasons. Last year was no different, with Houston clinching top spot with a 10-6 record, but some questionable offseason moves have greatly diminished confidence that they can compete against improving divisional rivals.
#Houston #Texans 2020 Schedule#WeAreTexans #HoustonTexans #GoTexans #NFL pic.twitter.com/AABHyd7UOF
— All NFL Stats (@AllNFLStats) August 27, 2020
The squad turned heads with their decision to ship WR DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona in exchange for veteran rusher David Johnson. While the Texans hope the addition of veterans Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks will help fill the gaping void left by Hopkins’ departure, it remains to be seen whether they have done enough to adequately protect passer Deshaun Watson, who has been sacked a shocking 106 times over the past two seasons.
Texans Key Additions and Departures
|David Johnson – RB||DeAndre Hopkins – WR|
|Brandin Cooks – WR||Carlos Hyde – RB|
|Randall Cobb – WR||—|
|Ross Blacklock – DT||—|
|Jaylen Watkins – S||—|
The Texans could see their season defined for them very early, as they open their campaign with dates against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Those meetings will prove to be a tough test for a Texans defense that ranked 28th in yards surrendered in 2019, and have the potential to put the squad into a deep hole before September is done.
Prediction: 6-10 (third)
- 2019 record: 6-10
- Points per game: 18.8 (26th)
- Points allowed per game: 24.8 (24th)
- Yards per game: 341.8 (20th)
- Yards allowed per game: 375.4 (24th)
- Turnover differential: -1 (T18th)
Just when you think things can’t get any worse in Jackson, they seem to get worse. Things quickly came off the rails following a promising 4-4 start last season, with the Jags closing out another lost campaign with a 6-10 record, and their third last-place finish in four years.
In two years, the Jags have gotten rid of:
QB Blake Bortles
QB Nick Foles
RB Leonard Fournette
RB Thomas Rawls
RB Carlos Hyde
CB Jalen Ramsey
CB AJ Bouye
S Ronnie Harrison
DE Calais Campbell
DE Yannick Ngakoue#nfl #tanking #jags #jaguars #fantasyfootball pic.twitter.com/0Y4cA8nKCK
— The Fantasy Football Sackos (@TheFFSackos) September 3, 2020
Change has been decisive and across the board in North Florida. The housecleaning started in the front office, with the firing of Tom Coughlin last December, and carried over into the offseason. Among the departed are quarterback Nick Foles, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue, safety Ronnie Harrison, and rusher Leonard Fournette. Gardner Minshew remains the man under center, at least for now, while defensive rookies CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson are poised to get plenty of opportunity on this stripped down squad.
Jaguars Key Additions and Departures
|Mike Glennon – QB||Leonard Fournette – RB|
|Tyler Eifert – TE||Nick Foles – QB|
|CJ Henderson – CB||Ronnie Harrison – S|
|K’Lavon Chaisson – DE||Yannick Ngakoue – DE|
|Laviska Shenault Jr. – WR||—|
|Joe Schobert – LB||—|
On a positive note, the Jaguars enjoy a somewhat easier schedule than their divisional rivals, with potentially winnable dates against Miami, Cincinnati, and Detroit among their first six games. But realistically, with the reset button now pushed, the Jaguars must be considered the frontrunners in the race to the bottom, which comes with the right to draft coveted Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
Predication: 2-14 (fourth)
Other division previews:
Daniel has been writing about sports and sports betting for over 23 years. The seasoned pro has contributed to the likes of Sports Illustrated, Sportsnet, NESN, Bleacher Report, OddsShark, the Globe and Mail, and The Nation magazine.