AFC South NFL 2018 Season Predictions And Betting Picks
For those NFL fans who love to gamble, its been a terrific year.
Thats because on May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gambling known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Now instead of having to go to Las Vegas to bet on professional and college football games, gamblers will be able to go to their local betting parlors and casinos in whichever state they live to place whatever NFL bets they like.
Unfortunately, though, thats going to take a little more time to get set up.
So until all those new American parlors and casinos are put in place (and they will be!), online betting will continue to rule.
However and wherever you choose to place your bets, the 2018 NFL season will provide fans with plenty of opportunities to gamble, so we thought wed offer a little help in that department.
This article series lists the current odds posted at four of the top online NFL betting sites:
- BETOnline (BO)
- Intertops (IT)
- SPORTSBetting (SB)
- GT Bets (GT)
Weve included the betting odds for every team in each NFL division, their chances of winning their division, their conference and the Super Bowl. But remember, odds can change, so be sure to check whats actually listed online before placing any bets.
Only gamble what you can afford to lose but study the odds to keep your losing to a minimum and shop around for the best odds to keep your winning to a maximum.
This is the AFC South
The Jaguars would have went to the Super Bowl last season but lost to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game, 24-20, thanks to a defensive breakdown in the fourth quarter.
In 2018, the AFC South could be up for grabs, but only if the injured quarterbacks of the Colts and Texans can return to their prior glory.
The Jacksonville Jaguars (+2000 to win SB LIII)
The Jacksonville Jaguars appear capable of coming out on top of their division once again in 2018, especially given the fact that the strength of their schedule is only tied for 25th.
But to dominate, not only does their 2nd-ranked defense have to show up again, so does their 1st-ranked rushing game, which was led by the 6 1 228-pound LSU rookie running back Leonard Fournette.
Will Fournette repeat his incredible rookie season?
Fournette was drafted by the Jaguars fourth pick overall in the 2017 NFL draft and the record-setter did not disappoint. The first year star ran for 1,040 yards and caught for another 302 yards for a total of 10 regular season touchdowns plus the 4 he scored in the playoffs.
Defenses will be focusing on shutting his running game down, which will open up the Jaguars’ passing game and put pressure on the arm (and surgically healed wrist) of their newly re-signed franchise quarterback.
The Jags quarterback question answered
2018 will be the year quarterback Blake Bortles will have to prove his worth and establish a reputation as a team leader whos now a definite winner. Despite the decline of most of his offensive numbers over the last three seasons, Bortles received a three-year, $54 million contract this offseason. He’ll be expected to repeat his 2017 regular season, when he completed 60.2% of his passes (a career high) for 21 touchdowns and 13 picks plus ran for 322 yards and 2 TDs.
Just in case he can’t, though, general manager David Caldwell traded the Cleveland Browns for backup Cody Kessler and in the 6th round of the draft selected big-armed Tanner Lee from Nebraska.
The Jacksonville’s 2nd ranked defense has returned
Last season, the Jaguars had two defensive player of the year candidates All Pro defensive end Calais Campbell (14.5 sacks) and elite cornerback A.J. Bouye (6 picks and voted 2nd team All Pro). The 2017 Jaguars defense finished second best in both total yards and points allowed and they finished first in yards allowed per play and points allowed per drive.
With most of his players returning for 2018, defensive coordinator Todd Walshs squad looks ready to dominate once again. Included in that is All Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, virtually the entire defensive line (including Campbell and tackle Malik Jackson) and linebackers Myles Jack and 2nd team All Pro Telvin Smith.
According to the odds makers, though, the Jaguars arent as solid an AFC bet to make the Super Bowl as the Patriots and Steelers are.
Odds that the Jacksonville Jaguars will win:
The AFC South: BO: +175, IT: +175, SB: +175, GT: +160
The AFC Championship: BO: +900, IT: +800, SB: +900, GT: +950
The Super Bowl: BO: +2000, IT: +2000, SB: +2000, GT: +1800
The Tennessee Titans (+4000 to win SB LIII)
Despite their 2017 playoff appearance and back-to-back 9-7 seasons, Tennessee Titans’ head coach Mike Mularkey was not re-signed. There were questions over the teams inconsistent offense as well as the development of quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk and general manager Jon Robinson made Mike Vrabel the Titans head coach, who has made a commitment to do a better job than his predecessor of developing Mariota.
All new sheriffs in town
One of the first things Vrabel did (that Mularkey refused to do) was hire a new offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur from the Los Agneles Rams. Mariota needs to thrive under Vrabel and LaFleurs guidance while the team has to remain unaffected by the transition to new leadership.
Vrabel also hired former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees for the same position. Several important offseason moves have given Pees more to work with than his predecessor had.
Titans D has been improved
Last season the Titans pass defense was ranked 25th overall so they added stellar cornerback Malcolm Butler (the player who Patriots head coach Bill Belichick mysteriously benched for Super Bowl LII) which gives Logan Ryan an equally effective partner in the secondary.
Pees defensive front line will get help from free agent nose tackle Bennie Logan (52 tackles and 1.5 sacks in 2017) who Tennessee picked up from Kansas City with a one year, $4 million contract. All-Pro safety Kevin Byard returns after grabbing eight interceptions last season. Plus with first-round draft linebacker picks Rashaan Evans (Alabama) and Harold Landry (Boston College), the middle of the field now looks a lot more solid.
The franchise quarterback needs a turnaround
Two seasons ago, Mariota threw for 3,426 yards, 26 TDs and only 9 picks while rushing for 349 yards and 2 TDs. Then in 2017, he threw for less yards (3,232), less TDs (13) and a lot more interceptions (15). The front office noticed and was not happy with the backwards slide.
Under Vrabel and LaFleurs guidance, the reverse trend in Mariotas development is supposed to turn around and move forward like it did after his rookie season. Vrabel wants to run a diverse offense that plays to Mariotas strengths, like screens and play-action.
The return of Conklin questionable
Coach Vrabel has said there is no specific timetable for offensive tackle Jack Conklins return from the torn ACL that happened during the Titans playoff loss to the New England Patriots last year. If it takes the full 9 months to recover, Conklin would miss the start of the 2018 season.
The Titans O-line needs all the help it can get, allowing 35 sacks last season and averaging only 114.6 rushing yards per game, ranked 15th in the NFL.
Only the bold will put money on the 2018 Titans to win it all.
Odds that the Tennessee Titans will win:
The AFC South: BO: +300, IT: +350, SB: +300, GT: +390
The AFC Championship: BO: +1600, IT: +2000, SB: +1600, GT: +2000
The Super Bowl: BO: +4000, IT: +4000, SB: +4000, GT: +4000
The Indianapolis Colts (+6600 to win SB LIII)
In 2017, due to an ongoing injury to their franchise quarterback, the Indianapolis Colts were forced use their backup Jacoby Brissett all season, and the results were a far-less-than-stellar record of 4-12 and a third-place divisional finish.
There are two main priorities for the Colts this season: 1) The healthy return of quarterback Andrew Luck, who’s missed 26 games over the last three seasons due to injury, including all of 2017, and 2) Keep Luck protected.
Luck is on track to return…perhaps
The 3 x Pro Bowler finally threw the ball at OTAs and minicamp in front of everyone, proving his comeback from shoulder surgery is for real. Sure, he only tossed a college-sized football, but it was a big deal since Luck hadnt been able to throw a football until as recently as May.
Luck appears to be ready for a return, completing 15 of his 19 pass attempts during his second day of training camp after looking “a bit rusty” during his initial return. With a healthy Luck, the Colts went 11-5 and made the playoffs his first three seasons from 2012-14.
Keeping the Colts main man safe
Actually, Brissetts 2017 numbers were not that bad. He passed for 3,098 yards, 13 TDs and 7 interceptions while rushing for 260 yards (4.1 per carry) for another 4 TDs. The big number that counts, though, is 52 – that’s how many times Brissett was sacked, the most of any quarterback in 2017. The year before, Luck was tied for second in that category having been sacked 41 times.
So the Colts used their first-round pick (6th overall) to select Notre Dames tough offensive guard Quenton Nelson. Then they grabbed Auburns guard Braden Smith in the second round. Theyll join center Ryan Kelly, tackle Anthony Castonzo and free agent tackle Austin Howard to (hopefully) keep Luck safer than they have in the past.
New head coach, second choice overall
The 2017 Colts defense was ranked 30th overall and their offense 31st, so new general manager Chris Ballard fired head coach Chuck Pagano in the offseason. The job was offered and accepted by New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, but then he inexplicably changed his mind.
The Patriots apparently offered him a long-term commitment, so McDaniels turned down the job and five days later, Ballard hired one of the great minds behind the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII victory offensive coordinator Frank Reich. The hope is that the success Reich has had with quarterbacks Nick Foles and Carson Wentz in Philadelphia will apply to Luck.
Plus better pocket protection will give returning wide receiver T.Y. Hilton and newly signed free agent Ryan Grant (WA) a lot more time to get open.
The big gamble with the Colts is whether Luck will be healthy and play like he did pre-injury.
Odds that the Indianapolis Colts will win:
The AFC South: BO: +550, IT: +450, SB: +550, GT: +550
The AFC Championship: BO: +2800, IT: +2800, SB: +2800, GT: +2000
The Super Bowl: BO: +6600, IT: +6600, SB: +6600, GT: +4000
The Houston Texans (+2500 to win SB LIII)
Last season started out a whole lot differently than it ended for the Houston Texans, mostly as a result of rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson. In seven games (six starts) for the 4-12 Houston Texans in 2017, Watson passed for 1,699 yards for 10 TDs and 8 picks and ran for 269 yards and 2 TDs. His rating was a 103 and his ranking by his peers (NFL Top 100 Players of 2018) was 50.
But after Watson tore his ACL at a November practice on a non-contact play, the Texans won only one more game and the hopes of a miracle season were completely dashed.
Watson is back – but is he back?
Watson has undergone successful surgery and rehab and has shown up at the Texans’ training camp ready to play. According to head coach Bill O’Brian, Watson saw “quality reps” when camp opened but, “like everybody, there are things that we have to clean up.”
Others who will benefit from Watson’s return: All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 96 balls for 1,378 yards and 13 TDs without a healthy Watson under center, and running back Lamar Miller, who ran for 185 yards and two TDs less in 2017 than he did in 2016.
Texans Secondary Improved
General manager Brian Gaine used his round three draft selection on athletic Stanford safety Justin Reid to improve the struggling secondary who ranked 24th in passing yards allowed per game, 237.4.
Gaine also signed free agent safety Tyrann Mathieu, who became available when the Arizona Cardinals released him after he refused to take a pay cut despite his 78 total tackles, 2 interceptions, one forced fumble and 7 passes defended last season.
New defensive coordinator gets Watt and Mercilus back
Newly promoted defensive coordinator (and assistant head coach) Romeo Crennels defense allowed 109.2 rushing yards but only sacked opposing quarterbacks 32 times and ranked 20th overall in the NFL last season.
Thankfully, 4x Pro-Bowler defensive end J.J. Watt is now healthy, as is linebacker Whitney Mercilus, both of whom were injured on the same drive against the Kansas City Chiefs last season. With the two of them at 100%, expect the Texans defense to give a healthy Watson and Co. a lot more playing time on the field.
A lot is riding on the health and return of Watson, but the odds makers seem to think that hes back and ready to repeat.
Odds that the Houston Texans will win:
The AFC South: BO: +200, IT: +180, SB: +200, GT: +180
The AFC Championship: BO: +900, IT: +1000, SB: +900, GT: +950
The Super Bowl: BO: +2000, IT: +2500, SB: +2000, GT: +1800