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NFC South Predictions
Odds - Analysis - Picks
Last year was a magical run for the New Orleans Saints. Who Dat Nation thoroughly enjoyed winning their first Super Bowl last year and they fully expect to repeat in 2010. Don't get overly excited though, Saints fans. The Atlanta Falcons are full of young talent and they won't just roll over The Buccaneers and Panthers could make some noise too. As you'll see below, the oddsmakers feel this will be a two horse race and we tend to agree with them here. We have listed the odds to win the NFC South below. The odds are an average taken from the the top rated sportsbooks.
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New Orleans Saints - Odds to win NFC South -160 - How do you improve on a spectacular Super Bowl winning season? You don't, but you can try and equal it! This team returns nearly every starter from a team that led the NFL in point differential (+169) last year. Coach Sean Payton proved in the Super Bowl that he has the balls to make big calls when he opted for and his team recovered a surprise onsides kick. Payton's ability to make the right calls can't be underestimated. Combine Payton's coaching ability with the playing ability of QB Drew Brees and this team has a chance to win in every game they play.
Brees is a prolific passer and he has excellent targets in Colston, Meachem, Henderson, Shockey, and Moore. Former first round pick Robert Meachem is the best home run threat for the Saints. If the passing game slows down then the Saints can turn to RB duo Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush. The defense on this team is stout thanks to players like Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Sedrick Ellis, and Darren Sharper. If everyone stays healthy the Saints are a legit contender to not only win the NFC South, but to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
But remember, it's never easy to repeat. As Super Bowl Champs, the Saints will have a target on their backs from game 1. From a betting standpoint, they don't figure to be a good investment. The public falls in love with Super Bowl Champs. The lines on Saints games will generally be inflated as the public blindly pushes money thru the windows based on memories from a year ago. Sharp bettors will look for spots to bet against the Saints this year, particularly early in the season.
Atlanta Falcons - Odds to win NFC South +175 - Things didn't go as planned in 2009 for this club that finished 9-7 with high expectations. Their luck could change in 2010. QB Matt Ryan is a rising star in the NFL. This will be his third year at the helm of the Falcons. He has good targets in TE Tony Gonzalez, and WR Roddy White. Both are very capable pass catchers and Gonzalez is a future Hall of Famer. The backfield in Atlanta is top notch. RB Michael Turner is back and healthy. He can be counted on for over 1,000 yards this year. Jerious Norwood will also get carries.
If the Falcons want to win the NFC South they will have to get more pressure on opposing QB's. They ranked 28th in pass defense last year. That doesn't help when you play Drew Brees twice. Jonathan Abraham has to improve his sack count this year. It fell from 16.5 in 2008 to just 5.5 in 2009. The offense on this team is rock solid, but they are a few defensive players away from unseating the Saints.
It's proven year after year in the NFL that you need a top caliber QB to win championships. The Falcons have just that in Matt Ryan. If you're looking for a potential upset in the NFC South, the Falcons would be your team. Once again though, at odds of +175, we feel as though there will be far better betting opportunities on a week to week basis rather than investing before the season starts.
Carolina Panthers - Odds to win NFC South +600 - Many question whether or not this team is serious about winning in 2010. These concerns are legit as the Panthers have been misers with their money and unwilling to spend big bucks on free agents. RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both look poised for big years, but the lack of a solid QB could mean they will put up big yardage in vain. We mentioned in the Falcons preview the importance of a QB in the NFL. The QB's in the Panthers camp have a combined 8 NFL starts.
The defense in Carolina is downright awful. They were 22nd against the run last year and it looks like they will go even further backwards in 2010. All in all this team will have 36 new faces on their roster for 2010-2011. John Fox is a good coach, but he'll have his work cut out for him this year. In fact, this is the last year of his contract, and considering the last 4 years have seen just one winning season, with two years at 8-8 and another year at 7-9, Mr. Fox could find himself on the outside looking in when all is said and done.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Odds to win NFC South +1500 - OK, so winning the NFC South in 2010 is all but out of the question. However, the Bucs have plenty of things to be happy about. They drafted DT Gerald McCoy. He will be a huge asset on defense for many years to come. They have a young and capable QB in Josh Freeman. The Bucs drafted WRs Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams to compliment Freeman. 2010 is a rebuilding year, but Tampa Bay is going places in the future thanks to a wealth of young talent.
As mentioned above, the NFC South looks like a two horse race. The Falcons should have a legitimate chance though, of possibly knocking the Saints from the top spot. But when all is said and done, you have to figure the Saints will have enough to once again top the division. Too many weapons, too much experience, too much Drew Brees and Reggie Bush.
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