It’s early days, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value early on these NFL divisional futures! Here’s my breakdown and pick for this year’s NFC South Winner:
New Orleans Saints @ -166
Atlanta Falcons @ +375
Carolina Panthers @ +600
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ +1100
Let's not get it twisted, there's one team that clearly stands out as a favorite here but as far as divisions go it's competitive with the majority of the division set to outperform last year.
Bruce Arians has become Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he'll be looking to get Jameis Winston back on track, with playoff football a secondary aim for his first season. There is still a wealth of talent in Tampa, with Mike Evans continually underrated and Ronald Jones II surely set to showcase some of his potential this season.
The Panthers will be keeping their fingers crossed that Cam Newton's shoulder woes are behind him, if he can operate near his best then Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore are young talents who can excel this year. Questions will need to be asked about McCaffrey's ability to continue to take such a high number of carries. He's an incredible back, both dynamic between the tackles and dangerous from the backfeld, but his size and his high usage is a concern. The Panthers at +600 is probably about right, there's a chance they could dominate this year but it's unlikely given the other two remaining franchises in the division.
The real battle is between the Falcons and Saints. The Saints were 13-3 last season, 6 wins ahead of Atlanta on 7-9. The smart money is on the Falcons comfortably surpassing last year's total of 7 wins, they've got Dirk Koetter back at OC, a fit Julio Jones and a young core that are only improving.
The Saints were mindblowing last year and it isn't amiss to suggest that they were the best team in the NFL despite the Patriots finding a way to secure the championship. They've lost Mark Ingram and the one-two punch that him and Alvin Kamara provided. Kamara, along with Michael Thomas are an incredible supporting cast to help Drew Brees continue to break records. The defense was hugely improved last year and that improvement will continue this season, which should ensure that the Saints are still the team to beat in the NFC.
The question is whether the Falcons, who will surely improve, offer value at +375 over the Saints, who'll almost certainly have some regression. I see the gap closing but we won't see enough of a swing to take the Falcons here, despite the Saints' short price.
3u – New Orleans Saints to Win the NFC South @-166