NFL Betting Trends: Gap Between Colts, Rest Of AFC South Growing?

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 7:56 PM GMT

The Indianapolis Colts have won the AFC South comfortably each of the past two seasons, and from the looks of the start of free agency that seems likely to continue in 2015. Here's a look at news around the division and with NFL futures odds.

Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are going to be favorites in the NFL Odds to win the South as long as Andrew Luck is in Indianapolis and until Houston, Tennessee and/or Jacksonville get a franchise-type quarterback. So in terms of winning the division, it's almost meaningless what Indy has done this offseason. It could have stood pat and won the South again. However, the Colts are thinking bigger, as in Super Bowl bigger. They have advanced an additional round in the playoffs each of the past two seasons but keep running into the Patriots (who have trashed Indy in the postseason both times). Indy has said goodbye to one of the best receivers in franchise history in Reggie Wayne, but the team replaced him with another former University of Miami star in Andre Johnson. He is about three years younger than Wayne, with Johnson turning 34 in July. Johnson is the best receiver in Texans history, where he had spent his entire career. His numbers took a dip last year, with 85 catches for 936 yards and three scores, but Houston wasn't great at quarterback. Johnson will be a No. 2 to T.Y. Hilton. The other big move was the Colts stealing away former 49ers running back Frank Gore, another former Hurricane, from Philadelphia. How much does Gore have left at age 32? He has played all 16 games and rushed for at least 1,106 yards each of the past four seasons. Gore will be a huge upgrade, even at that age, over the bust that was Trent Richardson. Gore also is a good pass-blocker and keeping Luck protected is vital. Indy might not be done collecting Hurricanes as it is talking with former Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.

Current Super Bowl odds: +1000

 

Houston Texans
Houston had a seven-win jump under rookie head coach Bill O'Brien last year, finishing second to Indianapolis. Alas, the choice of Jadeveon Clowney as the No. 1 overall pick in 2014 is looking very questionable now with Clowney's injury troubles. Winning nine games in '14 was pretty impressive considering O'Brien used Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage at quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been traded to the Jets so the starting job will be won in camp between Mallett, who was re-signed, and former Browns starter Brian Hoyer, the team's big free-agent addition. Hoyer isn't anything special but was 10-6 in his career as a starter with Cleveland. He and Mallett both formerly backed up Tom Brady in New England. I actually believe Mallett wins that job. The Texans did waive their all-time leading receiver in Johnson, but they love young DeAndre Hopkins to step into a No. 1 role.

Current Super Bowl odds: +5000

 

Tennessee Titans
This team has been incredibly quiet. The biggest news was that former starter and first-round QB Jake Locker retired, but he was a free agent and not in the team's plans for this season regardless. A bit odd as Locker is only 26 and someone would have signed him to be a backup. Locker was the No. 8 pick in the 2011 draft out of Washington and stared 23 games over the past four years. He showed some positive signs but couldn't stay healthy. Tennessee is one of the 15 NFL Teams Who Desperately Need QBs but they appear ready to go with second-year Zach Mettenberger at QB in 2015 unless Marcus Mariota wows the Titans and they take him No. 2 overall in the draft. The only major additions as of now are former Falcons receiver Harry Douglas and ex-Bills safety Da'Norris Searcy. Nothing to see here.

Current Super Bowl odds: +30000 (co-longest shots)

 

Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jags had about as much money to spend as anyone as they look for their first winning record and playoff berth since 2007. Jacksonville was looking at Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, but as of this writing that doesn't look likely. The team did get QB Blake Bortles a weapon in former Broncos tight end Julius Thomas. Hard to argue with that as Thomas has caught 108 passes for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns the past two seasons with Denver. By comparison, Jacksonville tight ends have caught a combined 102 passes in that timeframe. The question remains: Was Thomas a creation of Peyton Manning? Defensively, the team added three potential starters in tackle Jared Odrick (Dolphins) safety Sergio Brown (Colts) and cornerback Davon House (Packers). Pretty solid offseason thus far, but running back badly needs addressing if you want to consider them when making your NFL Picks.

Current Super Bowl odds: +30000 (co-longest shots)