The Indianapolis Colts were supposed to be pretty good this season. The rest of the AFC South was supposed to be pretty underwhelming or simply bad.
It turns out, maybe everyone in the division is bad.
The Colts are 0-1-1, with both games coming inside the division. That’s not good for tiebreakers. Matt Ryan looked awful last week, and the Colts were shut out 24-0 by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Indianapolis is still the favorite to win the messy AFC South. They’re +130. The Colts don’t look like a division winner at this point, and maybe another team is the better bet.
Colts still the AFC South favorite
Here are the current odds on the AFC South winner:
Indianapolis Colts +130
Tennessee Titans +225
Jacksonville Jaguars +275
Houston Texans +1600
The problem with betting the Colts is finding another team that you’d feel confident in.
The Titans won the division last season, but they’re 0-2. It’s not a good 0-2 either. They lost at home to the New York Giants and were demolished 41-7 by the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. Derrick Henry doesn’t look the same. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been great. If you were fading the Titans coming into the season, you feel pretty good about that. They don’t look anything close to last season’s team that somehow got the AFC’s No. 1 seed.
The Texans play hard and they should have beaten the Colts in Week 1. They had their chances on the road against the Denver Broncos in Week 2, as well. It’s just hard to get them from “feisty team that could cover a lot of spreads” to “AFC South champion.” They’re a year or more away from contending for a division crown.
How about the Jaguars? Well, they might be interesting.
Jaguars coming off a big win
The Colts were not competitive against the Jaguars on Sunday. They had key injuries, most notably to receiver Michael Pittman Jr. and linebacker Shaquille Leonard, but that doesn’t explain everything. Jacksonville looked like the far better team in that game. Maybe they will be the better team all season.
The Jaguars didn’t look very good in Week 1 against the Washington Commanders, but you might not need to be good to win the 2022 AFC South. You just have to be better than the other three teams. A 9-8 record could win the division. Or maybe it’s 8-9.
Jacksonville is improved. Trevor Lawrence still has his bad moments, but he looked pretty good on Sunday against the Colts. Some of their free-agent additions have been very good, especially receiver Christian Kirk. Top overall draft pick Travon Walker looks like the real deal. Not having Urban Meyer as their coach has been very good for the Jaguars. Their odds to win the division improved this week from +300 to +275, presumably with bettors finding value in the Jaguars and betting on them.
Betting the Colts to win the division at +130 odds after the start they’ve had seems like the worst option. Maybe the Colts turn it around soon, but they get the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3. If they don’t upset the Chiefs, they’re in a quick 0-2-1 hole and haven’t played all that well.
Taking the Jaguars at +300 seems worth it. We see teams go from worst to first all the time in the NFL, and the Jaguars have a similar profile to some teams that have done it before. Whoever wins the AFC South might not be that good, but someone is going to cash a ticket.