NFL Betting Preview
Odds to Win
Last year, there wasn’t a true favorite to win the NFC South with three teams all having similar odds. However, the division was quickly decided as the Panthers ran through a favorable Schedule and ended up with seven more wins than the second-place team, the Falcons. And so, Carolina is a heavy favorite in 2016 with the other three teams all having similar odds to finish second.
Odds to win NFC South
courtesy of 5 dimes Sportsbook
Carolina Panthers -235
Atlanta Falcons +600
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +655
New Orleans Saints +720
There’s not much to argue against the Carolina Panthers this year, as a heavy favorite to win the NFC South. After a dominant 2015, they didn’t lose much outside of Josh Norman and a couple over-the-hill defenders. In turn, they get back top wide out Kelvin Benjamin to go with a couple young additions to the defense through the draft. The offense scored an NFL-best 500 points last season and it’ll be hard for them to match that total even with Benjamin back. That said, what will force them to come back to earth? With Cam Newton, they are one of the better rushing teams in the league and with a better receiving core, he should be just as good in the passing Game. Defensively, the Panthers still have an elite unit and it’s hard to see them taking a step back. And so, do any of the other teams even have a chance?
It looked like the Atlanta Falcons would be good competition last year, but they fell apart in the second half after winning their first six Games. Everything kind of stopped working for them on both sides of the ball. Matt Ryan is looking to have a bouNCe-back season in his second year in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. The addition of center Alex MACk should help a bit as well as the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. It’ll be up to Ryan to make this offense elite again. Defense is still a question and Dan Quinn is hoping to figure that out. One more year of Vic Beasley should help the pass rush and the same could be said about the addition of Dwight Freeney and COurtney Upshaw. The Falcons look better than a year ago, but they remain a team that fails to put everything together when needed.
Speaking of teams that fail to put everything together. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have seemingly been a sleeper team the last 10 years, but that never came to fruition. But with Jameis Winston in his second season, this may be as good of time as any for them to reach a .500 or better record. Everything is pretty much the same on the offensive side, although the line may take a dip without LoGAn Mankins. The hope is that Winston can get the team more wins. The Bucs aren’t terrible on defense, but they were exploited multiple times last year and still GAve up 417 points. With Gerald McCoy and LAvonte David as lyNCh pins, the Bucs added depth in the offseason, which should help with guys like Robert Ayers, Daryl Smith and Brent Grimes.
And yet another team that will be fighting in the same range is the New Orleans Saints, who quietly had seven wins last year. As long as Drew Brees is there, this team will be competitive and there’s no reason to suggest the offense will take a step back this season with rookie Michael Thomas added to the receivers with tight end Coby Fleener. It’s the defensive side that has all of the questions. James LAurinitis steps into the middle linebacker spot, but outside of him, it’s a lot of the same people with rookie tackle Sheldon Rankins. Simply put, these guys have to get better as a team and that starts with new full-time coordinator Dennis Allen, former Raiders head coach.
The Panthers have the most complete team in the Conference with the others far behind in certain areas. Sure, Carolina will probably see a dip in wins, but will any of the other teams battle for double-digit wins? At this point, the Falcons may be the most valuable pick with Matt Ryan, but a more complete Bucs team could also contend. As for the Saints, a bad defense is likely to hurt their overall record oNCe again.