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NFC South Odds: Betting the Exact Order After Free Agency

Tom Brady is back for another year, and the Buccaneers are heavily favored once again. How can we expect the rest of the division to shape up this season, and where can we uncover value when betting on the final order?
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NFC South Odds: Betting the Exact Order After Free Agency

The league-wide free agent and trade frenzy probably isn't over, but as the dust settles and the calendar heads toward April, the month of the draft, it's come time to do some preliminary evaluations around where teams stand. This is not only the case for overall power rankings, either.

The race is all the way on for this year's division chases, and as a result DraftKings went ahead and dropped betting odds on how each of the eight divisions could shake out. Odds are listed for each of the exact scenarios, listing the division winner at the top through the last place finisher in fourth.

Going division by division, let's get started with the NFC South.

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Top 5 Scenarios

NFC South - Exact Order Odds
DraftKings' Division Exact Order Odds for the NFC South
OddsNFC South Exact Order
+2501st TB Buccaneers/2nd NO Saints/3rd CAR Panthers/4th ATL Falcons
+3901st TB Buccaneers/2nd CAR Panthers/3rd NO Saints/4th ATL Falcons
+6001st TB Buccaneers/2nd NO Saints/3rd ATL Falcons/4th CAR Panthers
+7501st NO Saints/2nd TB Buccaneers/3rd CAR Panthers/4th ATL Falcons
+8501st TB Buccaneers/2nd ATL Falcons/3rd NO Saints/4th CAR Panthers

It's obvious that the oddsmakers are back on the Buccaneers after Tom Brady announced his un-retirement just 40 days post-retirement. He's back, alongside returning free agents Ryan Jensen, Carlton Davis, Leonard Fournette and Chris Godwin. General manager Jason Licht and team also brought in safety Logan Ryan as well as veteran receiver Russell Gage to help beef up the receiving corps. They have an early over/under of 11.5 wins at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Moving from the known to all of the unknown that is the performance and final finish of each of the other three teams: the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Atlanta Falcons. Respectively, the three of them are pegged for 7.5, 6 and 5 wins, according to the oddsmakers. The Saints are playing their first season without Sean Payton at the helm, while the Panthers and Falcons retain their second-year coaches. The Falcons find themselves at the very bottom for obvious reasons. They opted to part ways with Matt Ryan in favor of Marcus Mariota at quarterback and star wideout Calvin Ridley was suspended one year for betting on games.

That might be the most likely scenario, but which is the most valuable from a betting perspective? What if things go a bit sideways?

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Best Value

NFC South Exact Order Value
DraftKings' odds for exact order of NFC South, based on best value.
OddsNFC South Exact Order
+14001st TB Buccaneers/2nd CAR Panthers/3rd ATL Falcons/4th NO Saints

Even if you expect things to go somewhat sideways, it's hard to abandon all reason and see the Bucs finishing anywhere but first. Per Pro Football Focus, each of their free agent signings received at least average grades, and this comes on the heels of a season in which they went 13-4. Oh -- and they have the GOAT at quarterback.

The rest of the division is separated by a mere 2.5 wins by expected total, so it's not outlandish to believe in the Panthers and Falcons to overcome the Saints. Despite a few question marks around their quarterback situation, the Panthers have the most stability year over year. Sam Darnold might start again barring a proven addition in the draft. And they still maintain one of the best running backs in the league in Christian McCaffrey and possess a top-notch weapon in D.J. Moore. Bran Burns, PFF's 34th-rated edge rusher, will aim to lead a defense that improved to 15th in Football Outsiders' 2021 rankings. The sixth pick could be key for them to either improve a quarterback or replace the departed Haason Reddick in getting after the quarterback.

The Falcons' case to edge out the Saints isn't an easy one. For Atlanta, Marcus Mariota last started a game in 2019, whereas New Orleans will send out the re-signed Jameis Winston assuming he's healthy enough to start the year. The 28-year-old tore his ACL back in Week 8, and if he's unable to go it would be Andy Dalton to get the nod as the team's new backup. Elsewhere on the field, the Falcons added Casey Hayward in the secondary and brought back Cordarrelle Patterson to serve as one of the team's top weapons alongside Kyle Pitts. The Saints, on the other hand, were forced to let key free agents Terron Armstead and Marcus Williams sign monster deals elsewhere.

Those vacancies alone are enough to warrant a coin-flip between the Falcons and Saints for the last spot. But when you then factor in the difference in the odds between for a Bucs-Panthers-Saints-Falcons finish (+390), it's well worth the reversal. After all, at +1400, you'll get an additional $1,100 on a winning $100 bet.

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Brett Oswalt has been writing about sports for five years, has covered everything from the NBA to College Football DFS, and previously served as an editor at numberFire. He is a Senior Workforce Planning Analyst at Highmark by day, and an avid sports fan and girl-dad by night. He resides in Pittsburgh, PA with his wife, Marley, daughter, Aria, and goldendoodle, Braun.

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