As America’s most popular professional sport, the NFL creates news 365 days a year. For the first time since 1978, when the list went from 14 to 16 games, the NFL extended the regular season again this year. The 2021 NFL schedule was released on May 12, and the 32 teams will play 17 games during an 18-week season. That means NFL fans get an extra week of NFL betting and fantasy football action. It will also affect the total winning bet.
Week 1 begins 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 January 9, 2022. Wild card weekend, divisional round playoffs and conference championship Sunday follow. The season ends with Super Bowl LVI on February 13, 2022 at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cali.
AFC South Division futures odds
In a two-team race, start to finish, Tennessee (11-5) and Indianapolis (11-5) battled for the AFC South championship all season last year. Once the dust settled, the Titans claimed the title by winning a playoff over the Colts based on best winning percentage in divisional games. Both teams were eliminated during the Wild Card playoff round. Houston (4–12) struggled on defense and finished well off the beat in third place. Jacksonville (1-15) defeated Indianapolis, during Week 1 action, prior to “Tanked for Trevor” and lost their last 15 games.
Popular US sportsbooks offer a variety of preseason betting options. AFC South Division title odds, plus team win totals, are posted on the NFL futures board on FanDuel. While the odds and prices below are subject to change, unless a stud player changes teams or is seriously injured, the moves will be subtle. Will the Titans claim their first consecutive championships? Is Carson Wentz the answer as a Colts quarterback? Who will be the starting pivot for Houston? Will quarterback Trevor Lawrence shine as a Jaguars rookie?
Tennessee opened the season with five consecutive victories. The Titans had streaks after that and closed on a 6-5 streak. Tennessee hosted Baltimore on wild card weekend and lost 20-13 to QB Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. The Jaguars rocked the Colts during Week 1’s 27-20 win at Jacksonville. Indianapolis was a favorite (-8.0) on the road. The Colts’ last four losses were separated by a pair of two- and three-game winning streaks. Despite a classic performance from Colts quarterback Phillip Rivers, Indianapolis lost 27-24 during its AFC wild card battle with the Bills in Buffalo.
Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here. That was a mantra for Texans when they started 1-6. After winning three of four games, Houston closed the season with five consecutive losses. Houston was mired in turmoil last year and things are not much better heading into the 2021 NFL season. A new era begins in Jacksonville with first-year head coach Urban Meyer and rookie quarterback Trevor Lawrence headlining. FanDuel bookies have listed the Titans and Colts as near-co-favorites to win the division. I keep going until we get closer to the start of the season.
AFC South Champion Prediction: PASSED
We keep track of our preseason picks and post regular season coverage betting tips when warranted. SI premium subscribers receive gambling games, updates and articles as soon as they are published.
Want more picks and betting analysis from the NFL? Become a SI PRO member today and get access to our exclusive Discord chat for premium games in real time!
Indianapolis Colts – AFC South wins Total Futures
Seeking stability at the quarterback position, 17-year veteran Phillip Rivers delivered during his one-season stop at Indianapolis. The Colts ranked 30th overall with 175.8 passing yards per game in 2019. Rivers started all 16 games and Indianapolis finished 11th with 253.3 passing yards per game last year. Much maligned recently, former Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz is the Colts’ projected starter this season.
Indianapolis traded a 2021 draft third-round pick, plus a conditional 2022 draft second-round pick, to the Eagles to acquire Wentz. He is the sixth favorite to win the 2021-22 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award. Running back Jonathan Taylor was a candidate for the 2020 ROY award after amassing 1,468 total yards and 12 touchdowns. It will have to be as good, if not better, for the Colts to exceed their 9.5 win total. I like OVER here.
Key players resigned: WR TY Hilton, RB Marlon Mack, CB Xavier Rhodes
Key additions: QB Carson Wentz, T Eric Fisher, PK Eddy Pineiro
Key outputs: QB Jacoby Brissett, DE Denico Autry, PK Adam Vinatieri
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: DE Kwity Paye, DE Dayo Odeyingbo, TE Kylen Granson
Indianapolis Colts Total Win Prediction: OVER 9.5 (-140) wins
Tennessee Titans – AFC South Wins Futures Total
Led by running back Derrick Henry, Tennessee ranked second overall with 168.1 rushing yards per game. A season-long stud, Henry had 588 rushing yards and six touchdowns during the Titans 5-0 fast start. He finished with 2,027 yards, plus 17 touchdowns, to win consecutive rushing titles. Henry was the only player to lead his team in runs during all 16 games. Their numbers have increased in each of the last three seasons.
Somewhat overshadowed by Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill had 3,819 passing yards, with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. The loss of WR Corey Davis, who had 984 receiving yards and five TDs, is a void Tennessee has yet to fill. 2020 leading receiver AJ Brown (70/1075/11) is trying to convince Atlanta WR Julio Jones to join the Titans. Slightly surprised by the low end, I bet MORE on the Titans’ win total.
Key players resigned: TE Anthony Firkser, TE Geoff Swain, LB Jayon Brown
Key additions: EDGE Bud Dupree, EDGE Denico Autry, CB Janoris Jenkins
Key outputs: WR Corey Davis, WR Adam Humphries, EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: CB Caleb Farley, OT Dillon Radunz, LB Monty Rice
Tennessee Titans Total Win Prediction: OVER 9 (-110) wins
Jacksonville Jaguars – AFC South wins Total Futures
Eliminating thousands of players from groups of “survivors” throughout the season; the Colts’ surprise in Week 1 for the Jaguars was their first and last win. 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 “won” the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Trevor Lawrence will be Jacksonville’s 13th starting quarterback for 12 seasons.
Rookie running back James Robinson was one of the few bright lights of last season. He played in 14 games and finished with 1,414 total yards and 10 touchdowns. It will be interesting to see how 2021 draft pick RB Travis Etienne reduces 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 don’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 outputs: WR Keelan Cole, WR Chris Conley, DT Al Woods
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne, CB Tyson Campbell
Jacksonville Jaguars Total Win 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 its AFC South title streak snapped to two last season. Houston has problems, from the maneuvers of former general manager Bill O’Brien to the recent resignation of team president Jamey Rootes, in addition to the legal problems surrounding QB Deshaun Watson. Including stud DE JJ Watt, the Texans lost more talent than they gained during the offseason.
Running the ball was a problem for the Texans, as they finished second to last with 91.6 rushing yards 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 troubles won’t get very far this year, as he won’t be deposed until 2022. Whether he is the Texans’ Week 1 starter is still in question. Try parity pricing and bet MORE on Houston’s total winnings.
Key players resigned: TE Pharaoh Brown, T Roderick Johnson, LS Jon Weeks
Key additions: QB Tyrod Taylor, RB Phillip Lindsay, WR Donte Moncrief
Key outputs: FROM JJ Watt, WR Will Fuller V, TE Darren Fells
Key Picks from the 2021 Draft: QB Davis Mills, WR Nico Collins, TE Brevin Jordan
Houston Texans Total Win Prediction: OVER 4 (+100) wins
More NFL bets from Sports Illustrated
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.