The AFC South is wide open.
Once Andrew Luck retired late in the preseason, this was the consensus across the league. Bettors were hopping on the Texans and Titans, with some willing to take the Colts at a better number sans Luck, a move that looks pretty good in hindsight. Entering Week 8, things are still wide open in the division – the Colts and Texans both sit at four wins (the Colts have just two losses while the Texans have three) while the Titans and Jags have three wins apiece.
The AFC South is the only division in football where every team is available at a plus-money bet to win it, and the Titans have the longest number of the four at +750 on FanDuel Sportsbook, now operational in four states after Tuesday’s launch in Indiana. The Colts and Texans both sit at +130 with the Jags at +700.
A FanDuel online/mobile sportsbook is expected to be a top player in Tennessee’s upcoming sports betting market. A representative from the company testified in support of sports wagering during the committee hearing stage earlier this year. There’s no official timeline for when Volunteer State sports wagering will begin, but it’s expected to be early next year. During the summer, the bill sponsor, state Rep. Rick Staples, told TN Bets that legal sports wagering should begin in January. It’s unclear if that timeline will hold, as the Tennessee Education Lottery Corporation is moving relatively slowly with vetting companies. In August, the TELC began forming an official interest list for sports betting operators.
Tennessee isn’t home to any casinos, so this process/industry is new for the TELC. It does not appear regulators are rushing at the breakneck pace as seen in states like Iowa and Indiana, which both legalized sports betting this year as well and were able to launch their respective industries ahead of the ongoing NFL season. Iowa and Indiana have long-established casino industries.
Back to football
Tennesseans can’t yet bet, but it’s still fun to think about: Will the Titans win the division? It’s definitely unlikely, but do we think there may be some value in their number at +750?
They don’t have an overly imposing schedule down the stretch, but it’s far from a cakewalk – they are home favorites against the Bucs this Sunday and get to square off with the Jags in Tennessee a few weeks later. Sandwiched between those games is a road meeting with the Panthers followed by a tilt with the Chiefs (who may still be without Patrick Mahomes), with the tail end of the season bringing about two meetings with Houston and a home game against the Saints.
Unless Ryan Tannehill keeps up the level of play he displayed in Week 7, we don’t expect the Titans to be favored in many of those games. The schedules for the Texans and Colts aren’t all that different than the Titans. The Texans also have meetings with the Raiders and Bucs still to come (Houston is a touchdown favorite against Oakland this Sunday) with one game remaining against the Colts and Jags. They are the only team of the three with New England on the schedule, while the Colts have the honor of facing off with a Miami team that may very well go winless this season. For what it’s worth, the bottom-dwelling Titans have a better point differential (+9) than the division-leading Colts (+5).
Houston is currently +21 with the Jags at -4. If the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans are too tough to stomach even at +750, the idea of betting both the Texans and Colts at plus money is attractive – if one of them wins, you’ll end up profiting. There are enough reasons to be skeptical of the Titans and Jaguars to justify it.
In terms of pure value, the +750 number is appealing and should be a fun sweat for Titans fans — in states where legal and regulated sports betting is available — hoping they can scratch and claw their way to the top of a division with no clear leader.