Colts remaining favorites to win division after Titans-Julio Jones trade says it all

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 20: DeForest Buckner #99 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 20: DeForest Buckner #99 of the Indianapolis Colts (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

Indianapolis Colts fans who were worried once the Tennessee Titans traded for Julio Jones had every right to be.

Jones is arguably the best receiver in the game when he’s healthy and would’ve been a pretty spot-on acquisition for the Colts, who are in dire need of a No. 1 option in the passing game.

On top of that, the Titans offense just got a little bit more potent. Jones will now stand opposite AJ Brown, who already destroys the Colts’ secondary, while Derrick Henry will once again lead the league’s most fearsome rushing attack. It certainly doesn’t feel great.

But do you trust in Vegas? If not, you probably should. Even after the Titans traded for Jones in what was already a neck-and-neck race with the Colts for supremacy in the AFC South, Indy is still favored to win the division.

Vegas is betting on the Colts to win the AFC South despite the Titans’ power moves.

Maybe there was a reason general manager Chris Ballard was seeming fine with letting Jones waltz to the Titans? After all, Tennessee did lose two key weapons in Corey Davis and Jonnu Smith. It’s not like the Colts are going to have an extra body to cover.

Additionally, have you seen Xavier Rhodes’ career numbers against Jones? Another year of him in Matt Eberflus’ system will yield better results, too. What else? Kenny Moore locking down the slot. Improved safety play from Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon. Those will all be part of the recipe.

The only issue is who will start opposite Rhodes, which could pose an issue, but if Indy needs to fix that before the trade deadline, Ballard and Co. likely will if the team is contending.

Also, Ryan Tannehill has to be able to throw to ball to Jones … if he’s able to get rid of it against the Colts’ front seven. DeForest Buckner will be back to blowing up the interior while hopes remain high for Kwity Paye to disrupt on the edge. Grover Stewart, Tyquan Lewis and Bobby Okereke should all take steps forward. Maybe a rebound season from Kemoko Turay? An impressive rookie campaign from Dayo Odeyingbo when he returns from injury?

The Colts’ defense is ferocious and relentless. A secondary full of playmakers and a front seven comprised of tanks should play a role in limiting Jones, and that’s probably why Vegas is trusting Indy to get the job done in 2021.