As the most popular pro sport in America, the NFL makes new 365 days a year. For the first time since 1978, when the slate went from 14 to 16 games, the NFL lengthened the regular season again this year. The 2021 NFL schedule was released on May 12 and all 32 teams will play 17 games over an 18-week season. That means NFL fans get an added week of NFL betting and fantasy football action. It will also affect win total wagering.
Week 1 opens with Dallas visiting defending NFL champion Tampa Bay on September 9. The week ends with Las Vegas hosting Baltimore in the Monday Night Football fight. Regular season action concludes with Seattle visiting Arizona on Jan. 9, 2022. Wild Card Weekend, Divisional Round playoffs, and Conference Championship Sunday follow. The season ends with Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cali.
AFC South Division Futures Odds
In a two-team race from start to finish, Tennessee (11–5) and Indianapolis (11–5) battled for the AFC South championship throughout the season last year. Once the dust settled, the Titans claimed the title; winning a tiebreaker over the Colts based on best win percentage in division games. Both teams would be eliminated during the Wild Card playoff round.
Houston (4–12) struggled on defense and finished well off the pace in third. Jacksonville (1–15) defeated Indianapolis, during Week 1 action, before they “Tanked for Trevor” and lost their final 15 games.
Multiple sportsbooks are offering a variety of preseason betting options. AFC South Division title odds, plus team win totals, are posted on the NFL futures board at FanDuel. While the odds and prices below are subject to change, unless a stud player changes teams, or there is a serious injury, the moves will be subtle. Will the Titans claim their first ever back-to-back championships? Is Carson Wentz the answer at quarterback for the Colts? Who is going to be the starting pivot for Houston? Will QB Trevor Lawrence shine as rookie for the Jaguars?
Tennessee opened the season with five straight wins. The Titans were streaky after that and closed with a 6–5 run. Tennessee hosted Baltimore on Wild Card Weekend and lost 20–13 to QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. The Jaguars jolted the Colts during a 27–20 Week 1 win in Jacksonville. Indianapolis was a (-8.0) favorite on the road. The Colts final four losses were separated by a pair of two and three-game winning streaks. Despite a vintage performance, from Colts’ QB Phillip Rivers, Indianapolis lost 27–24 during their AFC Wild Card battle with the Bills in Buffalo.
Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here. That was a mantra for the Texans as they opened with a 1–6 record. After winning three of four games, Houston closed the season with five straight losses. Houston was neck-deep in turmoil last year and things aren’t much better heading into the 2021 NFL season. A new era begins in Jacksonville with first-year head coach Urban Meyer and rookie QB Trevor Lawrence as the headliners. FanDuel bookmakers have listed the Titans and Colts as near co-favorites to win the division. I am passing until we get closer to the start of the season.
AFC South Champion Prediction: PASS
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Indianapolis Colts – AFC South Win Total Futures
Searching for stability, at the quarterback position, 17-year veteran Phillip Rivers delivered during his one-season stop in Indianapolis. The Colts’ ranked 30th overall with 175.8 pass yards per game in 2019. Rivers started all 16 games and Indianapolis finished 11th with 253.3 pass yards per game last year. Much maligned recently, former Philadelphia QB Carson Wentz is the projected starter for the Colts this season.
Indianapolis traded a 2021 third-round draft pick, plus a conditional second-round 2022 draft pick, to the Eagles to acquire Wentz. He is the sixth favorite to win the 2021-22 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award. RB Jonathan Taylor was a 2020 ROY Award candidate after he racked up 1,468 total yard and 12 touchdowns. He will need to be just as good, if not better, for the Colts to top their 9.5 win total. I like OVER here.
Key Players Resigned: WR T.Y. Hilton, RB Marlon Mack, CB Xavier Rhodes
Key Additions: QB Carson Wentz, T Eric Fisher, PK Eddy Pineiro
Key Departures: QB Jacoby Brissett, DE Denico Autry, PK Adam Vinatieri
Key 2021 Draft Picks: DE Kwity Paye, DE Dayo Odeyingbo, TE Kylen Granson
Indianapolis Colts Win Total Prediction: OVER 9.5 (-140) wins
Tennessee Titans – AFC South Win Total Futures
Led by all-world RB Derrick Henry, Tennessee was second overall with 168.1 rush yards per game. A stud throughout the season, Henry posted 588 rushing yards and six scores during the Titans 5–0 quick start. He finished with 2,027 yards, plus 17 touchdowns, to earn back-to-back rushing titles. Henry was the lone player to lead his team in rushing during all 16 games. His numbers have increased in each of the last three seasons.
Somewhat overshadowed by Henry, QB Ryan Tannehill posted 3,819 passing yards, with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The loss of WR Corey Davis, who had 984 receiving yards and five TD, is a void Tennessee has not filled yet. 2020 leading receiver A.J. Brown (70/1075/11) is trying to convince Atlanta WR Julio Jones to join the Titans. Slightly surprised by the low juice, I am betting OVER on the Titans’ win total.
Breaking 06/06/21: Tennessee has acquired WR Julio Jones from the Atlanta Falcons. The Titans AFC South title odds have dipped from +125 to a +110 moneyline tie with Indianapolis. The Tennessee win total remains the same (9.0) but the OVER juice is now set at -140 while the UNDER price is +120 at FanDuel. We bagged a great price.
Key Players Resigned: TE Anthony Firkser, TE Geoff Swain, LB Jayon Brown
Key Additions: EDGE Bud Dupree, EDGE Denico Autry, CB Janoris Jenkins
Key Departures: WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries, EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
Key 2021 Draft Picks: CB Caleb Farley, OT Dillon Radunz, LB Monty Rice
Tennessee Titans Win Total Prediction: OVER 9 (-110) wins
Jacksonville Jaguars – AFC South Win Total Futures
Knocking thousand’s of players out of season-long “survivor” pools; the Jaguars Week 1 upset of the Colts was their first and last victory. The “Tank For Trevor” campaign heated up after that and Jacksonville was outscored 472-279 during a 15-game losing streak. Finishing last in the league, the Jaguars “earned” the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence will be the 13th starting QB, over 12 seasons, for Jacksonville.
Rookie RB James Robinson was one of just a few bright lights for last season. He played in 14 games and finished with 1,414 total yards and 10 scores. It will be interesting to see how 2021 draft pick RB Travis Etienne cuts into Robinson’s workload. The addition of WR Marvin Jones should help free up some space for DJ Chark Jr. in the passing game. Try as I might, I can’t see the Jaguars winning seven games this season.
Key Players Resigned: LT Cam Robinson, EDGE Dawuane Smoot, P Logan Cooke
Key Additions: WR Marvin Jones, CB Shaquill Griffin, IDL Malcom Brown
Key Departures: WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, DT Al Woods
Key 2021 Draft Picks: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, CB Tyson Campbell
Jacksonville Jaguars Win Total Prediction: UNDER 6.5 (-110) wins
Houston Texans – AFC South Win Total Futures
After finishing 11–5 in 2018, and 10–6 during the 2019 season, Houston had their run of AFC South titles snapped at two last season. From head-scratching moves by former general manager Bill O'Brien, to the recent resignation of team President Jamey Rootes, plus legal problems surrounding QB Deshaun Watson, Houston has problems. Including stud DE J.J. Watt, the Texans lost more talent than they gained during the offseason
Running the ball was an issue for the Texans as they finished second last with 91.6 rushing yard per game. It didn’t help that Houston allowed 416.8 total yards and 29.0 points per game on defense. Watson’s looming legal issues won’t get very far this year, as he will not be deposed until 2022. Whether he is the Texans’ Week 1 starter is still in doubt. Take a shot at the even money price and bet OVER on the Houston win total.
Key Players Resigned: TE Pharaoh Brown, T Roderick Johnson, LS Jon Weeks
Key Additions: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Donte Moncrief
Key Departures: DE J.J. Watt, WR Will Fuller V, TE Darren Fells
Key 2021 Draft Picks: QB Davis Mills, WR Nico Collins, TE Brevin Jordan
Houston Texans Win Total Prediction: OVER 4 (+100) wins
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