If you like all plus odds, and you should, then take a look at your NFC South Division betting options because there are three teams that could all be contenders here and every single one of them is a money-maker.
Though the New Orleans Saints are the defending NFC South champions, the NFC South odds are stacked a little differently for 2018. The Atlanta Falcons rule the roost, while the Saints sit in silver medal position. This was the best division in the NFL last year with three of these teams finishing with double-digit wins and making the postseason.
This isn’t an AFC South-level shake-up, but I do see things a little differently than the oddsmakers. When it comes to your NFC South betting, I really only like two of these teams to compete for the title and make the playoffs. The rest, as the kids say, will kick rocks and one team (and you know who) will definitely fire its coach.
Odds To Win the NFC South Division
Atlanta Falcons +175
New Orleans Saints +240
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +300
Carolina Panthers +400
The Bucs leapfrog the Panthers after two wins as huge underdogs. They are in first place after two weeks but, as we’ve seen time and time again, anything can happen with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.
Win totals: Over 9.5 (-118), Under 9.5 (-112)
I like everything about the Falcons, except their offensive coordinator. Steve Sarkisian followed up calling Alabama’s national title game loss to Clemson with a horrible performance running Atlanta’s attack. He was handed the keys to a Ferrari and traded it in for a Prius. Not only did the Falcons not repeat as NFL scoring champs with Sark as OC, but they didn’t even score the most points in their own division. The Panthers outscored Atlanta and that was with Mike Shula calling the plays.
The Falcons had every reason to fold up shop last season and for a while, it looked like they would. After the worst choke-job in Super Bowl history, they were due the hangover to end all hangovers, but they got over it in the second half of the season and finished 10-6 in spite of Sarkisian’s restrictor-plate playcalling. They then doubled down, adding Calvin Ridley in the draft. Ideally that will put Mohamed Sanu in the slot. It’s a crime if this team doesn’t score 450 points this season.
Atlanta is just too loaded on offense and too talented on defense to be anything other than the favorite for your NFC South betting plans.
Projected win total and finish: 11-5, first place in the NFC South
Win totals: Over 8 (-140), Under 8 (+110)
While the NFC South odds say the Saints should finish second, I don’t see it that way. I like the Panthers, who are busting out their own new offensive coordinator in Norv Turner. Carolina was a sneaky good team last year that no one talked about until they won 11 games and made the playoffs.
I expect Cam Newton to have the best statistical season of his career running Turner’s offense. If Christian McCaffrey is really the offensive weapon everyone (but me) thought he’d be out of Stanford, this will be the time he shines. He should certainly improve on a mediocre rookie campaign. He did have to split time in the backfield with James Stewart, but still I don’t think anyone was expecting him to fail to rush for 500 yards.
The weakness on the Panthers’ defense has been the back end, but they’ve addressed that in free agency and the draft. They still won’t be the unit they were back in their Super Bowl season, but they’ll be good enough.
Projected win total and finish: 10-6, second place in the NFC South
New Orleans Saints
Win totals: Over 9.5 (-135), Under 9.5 (+105)
When the final horn sounds on the 2018 NFL season, I think the Saints’ trade up in April’s draft to grab Marcus Davenport is going to look dumber than it did on Draft Day. New Orleans surrendered its 2019 first-round pick to make the move and, from where I’m sitting, that is about to blow up in their face.
The Saints won the NFC South last season with an 11-5 record of their own, thanks to Drew Brees continuing to do Drew Brees things and the emergence of Alvin Kamara in the backfield. Both Kamara and Mark Ingram made the Pro Bowl, but don’t be fooled by that. Ingram will start the season on a four-game suspension and I don’t think he’ll be anything other than Kamara’s back up when he finally returns to the field.
New Orleans has a decent enough defense to keep it interesting all year, but I don’t see this as a playoff team. There are only so many slots in a loaded NFC and somebody’s got to get left out in the cold. This year, it’s New Orleans’ turn.
Projected win total and finish: 9-7, third place in the NFC South
Win totals: Over 7.5 (-130), Under 7.5 (+100)
First off, let’s start with the good news. It can’t get much worse for the Buccaneers this season. Those win totals up there are just outrageous, based solely on roster talent and on absolutely nothing Tampa Bay has shown on the field under Dirk Koetter. Not only should you bet the under on the Bucs’ win total, any action you can get on Koetter being the first NFL head coach fired this season, you should absolutely take. He is a dead man walking.
Of course, it didn’t help that quarterback Jameis Winston got suspended three games for his incident with an Uber drive in Arizona. The Bucs have never, not once, given a second contract to a quarterback that they drafted. Before he decided to get all handsy with his chauffeur, Winston looked like he’d break that curse. Now, that might not be the case.
Anything short of a playoff season dooms Koetter and maybe Winston too. Koetter better get packing.
Projected finish and win total: 6-10, fourth place in the NFC South
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