The staff at Oskeim Sports just finished its NFL betting preview on the NFC South. This NFL betting preview covers the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Please visit Oskeim Sports’ Blog on a daily basis for free sports picks, betting advice, educational material and a comprehensive NFL betting preview on every team in the NFL.
On Thursday, July 26, Oskeim Sports will be publishing its NFL betting preview on the NFC West.
The NFC South could be the strongest division in the NFL. With three teams reaching 10 wins last season, half of the NFC playoff seeds could come out of this division this season.
New Orleans was one play away from a matchup against the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game last season. The Saints are favorites to win the division this season behind the ageless wonder Drew Brees, but it’s really a three-team race with the Falcons and the Panthers.
The Buccaneers may be the best last-place team in the NFL and could reach the .500 mark this season. Time to break down this tight division.
1. New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees is back at the helm and that fact alone makes the Saints dangerous. With the most potent backfield in the NFL with at running back in Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the Saints could go the distance in the conference.
They are at an over/under of 9.5 for wins this season and rank sixth in ESPN’s power rankings. Fourth in the league last year in scoring, the underrated defense was tenth in points per game allowed at 20.7. Continuing to upgrade defensively, the Saints added safety Kurt Coleman, linebacker Damario Davis and cornerback Patrick Robinson.
The team was less successful in the draft, grading a C- according to CBSSports.com. Therefore, any significant improvement will likely come through free agency or within their core roster.
A first place schedule makes a return to that top more daunting, plus they must face the Falcons twice and Panthers twice in divisional match ups. Ten wins could take the division and the Saints appear to be the front-runners heading into the season.
2. Atlanta Falcons
Last season ended with a somewhat disappointing loss to the Eagles in the playoffs, as the sixth-seeded favorites on the road. The future is promising with Matt Ryan back calling the signals and perennial All-Pro Julio Jones as his main target.
The ground game is secure with Devonta Freeman and Devin Coleman, who combined for 12 touchdowns on the ground last season. Atlanta is eighth in ESPN’s power rankings and their over/under is 9 for wins this season.
Consistently good on both sides of the ball, the Falcons ranked eighth in both scoring and points allowed. The Falcons also graded A- in this year’s NFL draft.
They also had several key signings, including safety Ricardo Allen, defensive tackle Dontari Poe, cornerback Justin Bethel, guard Brandon Fusco, defensive Adrian Clayborn and kicker Matt Bryant.
A playoff berth certainly isn’t a lock, but the Falcons can be a very dangerous team should they reach the postseason.
3. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers had an up and down 2017, culminating in an 11-win season, second in the division. They ranked 11th in points allowed and 12th in points scored, rather low rankings for a team with the seventh-best record in the NFL.
Despite the 11 wins, oddsmakers are seeing a potential decline this year, with an over/under of 9 wins. ESPN.com ranks the Panthers ninth, but the seventh best NFC team, putting them on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
Carolina will continue to rely heavily on quarterback Cam Newton, who ran for 754 yards and combined for 28 touchdowns rushing and passing. With Jonathan Stewart gone, Christian McCaffrey (435 yards rushing, 651 yards receiving in 2017) is currently first on the depth chart at running back.
Bolstering the receiving group, Carolina added Torrey Smith in a trade with the Eagles. Tight end Gregg Olsen, who missed much of last season, should be one of Newton’s main targets.
In the draft, Carolina picked a wide receiver, two cornerbacks, two linebackers and a defensive lineman to add depth to an already solid unit.
Picked third, the Panthers could very well finish first or second, as the division is extremely tight.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is, unfortunately, playing in one of the toughest divisions in the league. While not a top tier team, they have more talent than their 5-11 record last season indicated.
They are 21st in ESPN’s power rankings and oddsmakers have them at an over/under of 6.5 wins. The Buccaneers were 18th in points scored and 24th in points allowed, so help is needed on both sides of the ball.
Offensively, the ground game must improve significantly. Peyton Barber is the number one back, but he rushed for only 423 yards on 3.9 per carry last season.
Jameis Winston had a solid season, although his touchdown total of 19 was rather mediocre. Mike Evans had 71 receptions for over 1000 yards and should be Winston’s main target, however, veteran Desean Jackson struggled and the Buccaneers need more from him this season.
Looking to strengthen the defense, Tampa Bay signed defensive linemen Beau Allen and Vinny Curry, both on the Super Bowl Champion Eagles last season.
They drafted defensive tackle Vita Vea out of Washington with their first-round pick in the NFL draft. Ronald Jones II out of USC could challenge for significant playing time. Adding more depth, two cornerbacks, a safety and an offensive tackle were also selected in the first four rounds.
Tampa Bay appears to be a team on the rise and should approach the .500 mark this season. Look for a respectable 7-9 season and a season away from contending for a playoff berth.
We hope you enjoyed today’s NFL beting preview on the teams residing in the NFC South. On Thursday, Oskeim Sports will be publishing its NFL betting preview on the NFC West squads.