Texans And Jaguars Could Decide Who Wins AFC South
November 23, 2020
When the 2020 NFL season got underway, there was one thing fans felt sure about regarding the AFC South. It was going to be won by either the Indianapolis Colts or Tennessee Titans.
The Jacksonville Jaguars did not have a prayer. Thanks to Bill O’Brien, neither did the Houston Texans.
For most of the season, the Titans held an edge as far as oddsmakers were concerned. But that changed following the Colts 34-17 win over the Titans on Thursday Night Football a couple of weeks ago.
However, while the Colts are favored (-170; odds via WilliamHill.com), the Titans are far from out of the picture (+130).
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With a win over the Colts in Indianapolis this week, the odds will probably swing back in Tennessee’s favor. Should the Colts win again, they will be in control of their own destiny. But the AFC South title will be far from secure.
The Texans (+10000) and Jaguars (+75000) will not become threats down the stretch, but both could factor into who the eventual winner will be.
How the AFC South May Be Won
This week’s game between the Titans and Colts will factor into the AFC South race, of course. But how both teams play down the stretch could matter just as much.
Let’s say the Colts win this week and improve to 8-3 while the Titans fall to 7-4. Of the five games remaining for the Colts, three will probably be wins (Texans 2X, Jaguars). But the Raiders and Steelers could go either way.
Tennessee, on the other hand, has a more manageable schedule. Like the Colts, they have three they should not have any trouble winning (Jaguars, Lions, and Texans). Cleveland will not be an easy win, but that game will be one the Titans should win. Their Week 16 game against Green Bay is their only tough one.
So, if everyone wins the games they should win, both teams could finish 11-5. Since the Colts will have won both head-to-head games, they will win the division. That means if the Titans lose this week, they will need Indianapolis to lose a game they should not—against either the Texans or Jaguars.
If the Titans win this week and the rest of the season plays out as it should, the Titans will win the AFC South with a 12-4 record while the Colts will finish with an 11-5 record. In this case, the Colts will need the Texans and Jaguars to do them a favor.
However, they will need the Titans to lose to both. A loss against one will give the Titans and Colts 11-5 records. But the Titans will win the tiebreaker (won-loss record in conference).
So, the Colts will need both the Texans and Jaguars to give them some help—if they lose to the Titans this week, that is.
How Should You Bet?
Counting on help from either the Texans or Jaguars would be a mistake. The Jaguars have not looked remotely competitive in weeks. While the Texans offense does have a lot of potential, the team is way too inconsistent. They might give the Titans and Colts a competitive game, but they will not beat either.
So, basically, the AFC South will be won by whoever wins this week.
The Colts are favored by four but won by 17 the first time after shutting the Titans offense down in the second half. Derek Henry ran for 103 yards, but Ryan Tannehill struggled to get the passing game on track. When he did complete passes, the Colts defense was quick to make the tackle.
To win, the Titans will need Derek Henry to run for at least 100 yards, Ryan Tannehill will have to do more with the passing game, and their defense cannot let Philip Rivers throw for 300+ yards.
As for the Colts, they just need to do what they did the first time around—Philip Rivers needs to have a day, and the defense must make sure Ryan Tannehill does not. But Mike Vrabel is a good coach; he is bound to have at least one new wrinkle in the game plan.
However, Frank Reich is a good coach as well. So, the Colts may be ready for whatever Vrabel throws at them.