For the last several years, the AFC South has seen a cycle of rises and falls. For a time, each team has been at the top of the division, seemingly head and shoulders above the rest, before making way to another powerhouse. Most recently, the Tennessee Titans were not only the best team in the division, but one of the best in the entire AFC.
This season, we may well be in the midst of another changing of the guard. The Jacksonville Jaguars won the division a year ago and have one of the most talented young rosters in the game. While some might back them to repeat their success, the 2023 AFC South is highly unpredictable — and considered by most to be the weakest division in the conference.
Thanks for reading our NFL Divisional Preview Series! Be sure to check out our previews for all eight divisions:
AFC North – AFC South – AFC East – AFC West – NFC North – NFC South – NFC East – NFC West
As well, be sure to check out our 2023 NFL Betting Portal for more info to prepare for the NFL season!
Keep reading for an in-depth betting preview of this year’s AFC South featuring odds from bet365.
Super Bowl odds: +2800
To win conference odds: +1400
Division odds: -160
Odds to make the playoffs: Yes -200, No +165
Season win total: Over 9.5 (-140), Under 9.5 (+110)
2023 record: 11-6 (Over 9.5)
Key additions: S Andrew Wingard
Key subtractions: RT Jawaan Taylor, OLB Arden Key, TE Chris Manhertz
Most important game on the schedule: We will get a chance to find out whether the Jaguars are the real deal nice and early. In week 2, they host the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in what should be the most exciting game of the week. Last year’s playoff game was tightly contested — though partially because of an injury to Patrick Mahomes. On paper, this young team is full of talent along the lines and, most importantly, at quarterback. Trevor Lawrence finally started living up to the hype a year ago and it seems like he still has greater heights to hit. He’s not only eyeing a division title in 2023, but a Super Bowl and MVP award in the near future as well.
Prop to watch: Lawrence hit a career-high in passing yards last year, posting 4,113 yards alongside 25 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He is poised for big things in his third year — a year when many of the top quarterbacks take their game up another level. That makes his over/under for passing yards an intriguing watch. Currently, his total is set at 3,950.5 passing yards. Hammer the over here (-130) as Lawrence should push 4,500 yards and beyond. He is more familiar with the offence than ever, has an assortment of available weapons, and is clearly confident in himself.
Potential breakout player: In Jacksonville, it’s tempting to think that the best candidate for a breakout season would be linebacker Devin Lloyd. However, the 2022 first-round pick struggled across the board last season, and doesn’t look primed to deliver on his potential. For that reason, safety Andre Cisco is the one to watch closely. After being a third-round pick in 2021, he showed consistency as a playmaker a year ago. If he continues to progress, it is not out of the realm of possibility to think that he could be one of the better safeties not only in the AFC, but the league as a whole. He had 73 tackles, 10 passes defended, three interceptions, and a touchdown return last year. The first-time starter made the most of his opportunity and could be poised for a huge 2023.
Betting projection: While the Jaguars aren’t quite at the “Super Bowl or bust” level that the Chiefs, Bengals, and Bills are, they are right on the borderline. As one of the most talented young teams in the league, everyone will be looking to Lawrence to join the elite. In a weak division, now is the time for the Jaguars to rise. Look for the Jags to hit their wins over (-140), Lawrence to hit his passing yards over (-130), and — if you’re especially confident — you could always back Lawrence for Offensive Player of the Year (+4000) as well.
Super Bowl odds: +6600
To win conference odds: +3300
Division odds: +320
Odds to make the playoffs: Yes +205, No -250
Season win total: Over 7.5 (-125), Under 7.5 (+100)
2023 record: 7-9 (Under 7.5)
Key additions: T Andre Dillard, WR DeAndre Hopkins, OLB Arden Key
Key subtractions: G Nate Davis, DE DeMarcus Walker, LB David Long, WR Robert Woods
Most important game on the schedule: By the time the Titans face the Jaguars for the first time in Week 10, we should know who they are. With early season challenges from the Saints, Chargers, Browns, Bengals, Ravens, and Steelers, there will be no hiding for the Titans.
They are just two years removed from being the top seed in the AFC. Mike Vrabel has the ability to fly these guys under the radar but the first Jaguars game could give us a clear idea of where they stand.
Prop to watch: How much longer can Derrick Henry continue to dominate? Aside from an aberration in 2021 (when he was hurt), he has bettered 1,500 yards in three out of four seasons. That makes his rushing yards prop an interesting one. This year’s number is 1,150.5, and there’s no signs that he’s slowing down, but he is 29 years old. Will this year be the year that age catches up with him? We don’t think there’s any reason to think so just yet. We would confidently back the over (-115).
Potential breakout player: Chigoziem Okonkwo is in a great position given the question marks surrounding the Titans receiving corps. The fourth-round pick in 2022 caught 32 passes for 450 yards, three of them for touchdowns last year. He displayed great athleticism in the open field despite being relatively undersized at 6-foot-3” and 238 lbs. His 4.52 40-time also leaves a lot of potential on the table. Ryan Tannehill, who isn’t the most dynamic quarterback to begin with, will likely be looking for safety valves. That could lead to plenty of targets for Okonkwo, especially if top pick Treylon Burks continues to develop slowly. Don’t be shocked if Okonkwo leads the Titans in catches and receiving yardage when the year is done.
Betting projection: There isn’t a lot to love about the Titans. With Henry around (+800 to lead the league in rushing), you can never count them out. But there are far too many question marks to ignore across the roster. Tannehill isn’t going to lead anyone to a title, let alone this group. The lack of playmakers on offence could make it far too challenging for the defence to overcome and drag this team to the playoffs. It will be close, but the under on wins (+100) should be the best bet.
|To win Super Bowl||To win division||To make the playoffs|
Super Bowl odds: +10000
To win conference odds: +6000
Division odds: +600
Odds to make the playoffs: Yes +360, No -500
Season win total: Over 6.5 (-125), Under 6.5 (+100)
2023 record: 6-11 (Under 6.5)
Key additions: DE Samson Ebukam, K Matt Gay, LB E.J. Speed
Key subtractions: LB Bobby Okereke, DE Yannick Ngakoue, CB Brandon Facyson
Most important game on the schedule: Of all the teams in the division, we may know the least about the Colts. Two years ago, they seemed like one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch before ultimately missing the playoffs. But last year was a full step backward. Who is this Colts team heading into 2023? Were injuries the main cause of the issues from a year ago? Week 1 against the Jaguars will give us a much clearer picture of the Colts. Moreover, it will give us our first real glimpse at Anthony Richardson, who they expect to be the future face of the franchise.
Prop to watch: Anyone watching the Colts this year will no doubt be watching Richardson. He is arguably the biggest project among the top quarterback picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, but also may have the highest upside as well. The Colts will seemingly throw him into the fire right away this season to find out what they’ve got. He may struggle with throwing the ball initially, but he’s definitely going to be a dangerous runner. At +700 to lead the NFL in QB rushing yards, this bet is too good to pass up. Yes, Justin Fields and Lamar Jackson are probably going to be right there at the top, but you can’t ignore the kind of elite athleticism that Richardson brings to this offence, especially if Jonathan Taylor is healthy.
Potential breakout player: Richardson will need as much help as he can get. Though he didn’t have a great rookie year, tight end Jelani Woods (third-round pick in 2022), has the size and skill to be an asset for Richardson. At 6-foot-7, 255 pounds, he was more of an inline blocker a year ago because of a porous offensive line. Shane Steichen has a reputation for using tight ends in his systems and you need look no further than Dallas Goedert’s production in Philadelphia. If the offensive line can spare him, Woods could become the huge target that quickly becomes a favourite for Richardson.
Betting projection: On the surface, it seems like the Colts are more closely related to their 2022 incarnation than the 2021 version. There are a ton of holes all over on both sides of the ball and losing Taylor for much of the year showed just how one-dimensional the offence is. Richardson will bring a new element, but he won’t be the best he can be as a rookie. The only saving grace here is that the division is weak. If the Colts can topple the Titans and Texans each time out, they may have a chance of breaking .500. Ultimately, it seems like the safe play is to take under 6.5 wins (+100), watch the development of Richardson, and see what the Colts do heading into the 2024 season.
Super Bowl odds: +17500
To win conference odds: +10000
Division odds: +800
Odds to make the playoffs: Yes +500, No -750
Season win total: Over 5.5 (-160), Under 5.5 (+130)
2023 record: 5-12 (Under 5.5)
Key additions: WR Robert Woods, FS Jimmie Ward, DT Sheldon Rankins, TE Dalton Schultz, QB Case Keenum
Key subtractions: DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, CB Tremon Smith
Most important game on the schedule: Make no mistake, the Texans are closer to the No. 1 pick than they are to the playoffs. Having said that, the schedule is very interesting, especially at the start. Aside from an opening weekend trip to Baltimore and a Week 3 matchup against Jacksonville, the rest of the schedule is very favourable until Week 9. That week, the Texans will take a trip to Cincinnati to battle one of the best teams in the AFC. If anything, it will give us a clear indication of just how far along their roster of young talent is. If they make good on their relatively soft opening weeks, it could be a sort of “prove it” game for the Texans.
Prop to watch: Even with all of the young talent that the Titans possess, it is safe to say that all eyes will be on the quarterback and top pick CJ Stroud. The Ohio State product has all the talent in the world as a passer and there was a fair share of people who felt that he is a better prospect and quarterback than Bryce Young. With the others – aside from the Jaguars – in the division being at something of a crossroads, and the schedule starting out favourably, Stroud could make an early case for Offensive Rookie of the Year (+800). Stroud is capable on the run and will likely need to make the most of his legs if he is to really stand out in his first year.
Potential breakout player: Most people don’t remember but Derek Stingley Jr. was taken the pick before Sauce Gardner in 2022. A quiet rookie season — not to mention missing the final eight games due to a hamstring problem — went a long way toward killing the hype, and Gardner winning Defensive Rookie of the Year didn’t help matters any further. Still, Stingley has the size and skill to be dominant. It is expected that he could return to playing press, an area in which he really excelled at LSU. With DeMeco Ryans now on the scene, the defensive guru certainly has the pedigree needed to get the most out of Stingley. If he can come around, he and DE Will Anderson Jr. could be the pillars of a strong young defence.
Betting projection: The Texans enter the 2023 season with a world of intrigue. In a division that has so many question marks, it would be reasonable for them to beat their win total (5.5, -160). They have some of the most dynamic young talent in the league and could be a threat as early as the 2024-25 season. That said, it isn’t 2024 yet. There will be a lot of flashes of promise on display this year surrounded by frustration and growing pains. For now, take the under on their win total (+130). After adding another big piece at the top of the draft, the sky will be the limit for the Texans — but not until next season.