For the last three years, the New Orleans Saints have been a lock to win the NFC South. This is especially true for the last two seasons where they went 13-3 while no one else even had a winning record. But they are not going to be a lock to make it four in a row—not with Tom Brady in the division.
At the same time, it is hard to ignore the Falcons offense staffed almost entirely with first-round talent. As for the Carolina Panthers, it is easy to overlook them, but if Teddy Bridgewater can get off to a hot start, they could make some noise.
The Saints, however, are still favored to win the division according to the oddsmakers at DraftKings:
- New Orleans Saints +100
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers +150
- Atlanta Falcons +650
- Carolina Panthers +14000
Alright, so who is going to win the division?
It is not hard to understand why the Saints are the favorite. They have won 13 games in each of the last two seasons. With Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and now Emmanuel Sanders, the offense should be as potent as ever. While the defense has lost a couple of guys in free agency, it has gained a couple, too.
Barring significant injuries to Brees, Thomas, or Kamara, the Saints are certainly going to be in the running for a fourth consecutive division title.
But the Buccaneers may actually put up a fight this year, and not just because they have Tom Brady. When a team is constantly playing catch up and shooting itself in the foot like the Bucs did last season, winning is going to be hard.
The Bucs offense is going to be night and day with Brady behind center and Jameis Winston gone. As long as the defense isn’t horrible, they will have a chance.
As for the Falcons, they haven’t been a real threat since they made it to the Super Bowl a few years ago. They haven’t been bad. They just haven’t been that good. However, with an offense that is slated to have ten of 11 starters be former first-round picks, it is understandable if fans get a little excited.
For Carolina to win the division, first-year NFL head coach Matt Rhule is going to have his work cut out for him. Christian McCaffrey will make the offense look better than it is. But with Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, McCaffrey may not have to do it all.
So– who should you bet on?
The Saints and Bucs are obvious front runners. But if you feel the need to choose between the two, the Saints are the smarter bet. Brady is incredible, but the Buccaneers were pretty bad last season, and Brady is no longer a spring chicken.
At the odds the Buccaneers are currently offered at, the risk is not worth it. The same could be said for the Falcons, and while the odds make it worth considering taking a flyer on the Panthers—don’t.
The payout will not be huge but roll with the Saints.