The NFC South was enigmatic in 2014/15 with all four teams finishing with sub-.500 records, and that has made it a good division in which to try to find some value in some futures odds.
Despite Deserved Razzing in 2014, NFC South Teams Have Solid QBs to Work With
The NFC South (To Be Winning Division in NFC +540, 5Dimes) division was quirky last season, with all four teams finishing with records under the .500 mark and the Carolina Panthers somehow capturing the division with a 7-8-1 mark (.469 winning percentage) and the New Orleans Saints (7-9, .438) missing out on the division title by the hairs of their chinny, chin chins...and .031 percentage points. The Atlanta Falcons (6-10) were also in the NFC South race last season, but the Panthers 4-game win streak to close out the season gave them the NFC South title and a berth in the NFC Playoffs where they promptly eliminated the Arizona Cardinals in the first round before losing to the eventual NFC champion Seahawks in Seattle in the NFC Semifinals. And we can’t forget about the lovable Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14), owners of not only the division’s worst record but also in the entire NFL, along with the AFC’s Tennessee Titans. This Bucs team had some major issues and went 0-8 at Home (Go Team!), 0-6 in the NFC South and 1-11 in the NFC. Tampa Bay also scored just 277 points while allowing 410 (-133), and despite having taken Heisman Trophy winner and local Florida State product Jameis Winston with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft held in Chicago in late April, this figures to be another long season for the Bucs simply because Carolina, New Orleans and Atlanta may not be as bad as their records last season or oddsmakers think, and all three swept the Buccaneers and went 3-3 ATS in those 6 contests with lowly Tampa Bay (7-9 ATS), with the Saints losing twice ATS and Carolina once.
Besides the crappy overall Regular Season records last year, the NFC South also saw the Falcons (5-1 vs NFC South) dominate within the division but finish in 3rd place because of four SU Losses to the AFC South in inter-conference play. That’s right, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals and the state of Ohio accidentally helped keep the Falcons from winning the NFC South. Atlanta, Carolina (4-2 vs NFC South) and New Orleans all went 6-6 against the NFC, so Luck and bad bounces and scheduling and all of the Little Things added up to the Panthers somehow winning the division. And with QB Cam Newton and underrated RB Jonathan Stewart and TE Greg Olsen and that defense, Carolina has to be the favorite to win here, making Futures bets on the Panthers maybe worth the effort despite the theoretically small paybacks if they win. An oddball game on the schedule against the Seahawks could put a damper on things for the Panthers, but unlike the Bucs and Falcons, this is a team built in the image of Head Coach Ron Rivera which does the little things and doesn’t beat themselves. And New Orleans and Drew Brees simply can’t have as bad a season as they did in 2014, can they? The Defense was a mess and Saints bets are interesting until one realizes club heartbeat (TE) Jimmy Graham has fled Bourbon Street for the Emerald City and those damn Seahawks. That in itself is enough to stay off New Orleans as his loss means less First Downs and TDs in crucial situations and less pumping up of the Big Easy crowd this time around. It’s impossible to replace a player as beloved as Graham was/is in New Orleans and his loss is like a vacuum that may prevent New Orleans from even having a decent shot at a Wild Card berth this season.
Odds to Win NFC South Division—LV SuperBook vs (Highest Offshore, Online or European)
Carolina Panthers 19/10 (+245, 5Dimes)
New Orleans Saints 9/5 (+225, bet365, Sky Bet)
Atlanta Falcons 2/1 (+240, Paddy Power)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8/1 (+850, Stan James)
NFC South Teams Odds to Win NFC Championship
Carolina Panthers 15/1 (22/1, Sky Bet)
New Orleans Saints 20/1 (22/1, Stan James)
Atlanta Falcons 15/1 (20/1, bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 50/1 >Opened 100/1 (80/1, Sky Bet, Stan James, Ladbrokes)
NFC South Teams Odds To Reach NFC Championship Game—(5Dimes)
Carolina Panthers +690
New Orleans Saints +710
Atlanta Falcons +800
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1900
NFC South Teams Odds to Win Super Bowl
Carolina Panthers 30/1 (-275, bet365)
New Orleans Saints 40/1 (+615, 5Dimes)
Atlanta Falcons 30/1 (9/1, Paddy Power)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 100/1 (9/1, Paddy Power)
NFC South Teams Select Super Bowl 50 Matchup Odds—(5Dimes)
Carolina Panthers vs Baltimore Ravens +23,000 (230/1)
New Orleans Saints vs New England Patriots +9900 (99/1)
Atlanta Falcons vs Buffalo Bills +48,500 (485/1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Oakland Raiders +990,000* (9,900/1)
*Highest Odds for Super Bowl 50 matchup on Prop betting board.
Regular Season Team Win Totals—(Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Carolina Panthers 8½ Over +115, Under -135
New Orleans Saints 9, Over +120, Under -140
Atlanta Falcons 8, Over -140, Under +120
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6, Over +110, Under -130
Carolina Panthers Futures Bets May Hold Some Solid Value Come January, 2016
Can a team from the NFC South win the Super Bowl this season? No division in the NFL offers higher odds (to be winning division in Super Bowl +1320, 5Dimes), and if Carolina does get there, surely they can hang and potentially beat a New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara in February in the so-called Golden Super Bowl. Maybe. with odds makers and early bettors favoring Drew Brees (+800, Regular Season Offensive MVP, 5Dimes) and New Orleans to win the NFC South this season, the Panthers seem like the play here to me again as the Carolina Defense is stronger than the Saints’—which allowed a gaudy 423 Points last season and had a horrific -13 TO Differential, one of the worst marks in the NFL. and with Graham gone, backing the Panthers (+245, 5Dimes) to win the NFC South now seems smart, despite that oddball game on the schedule at the Seahawks in Week 6, a presumed Loss and an opponent the Saints, Falcons and Bucs luckily don’t have to deal with. All three of the Panthers (339 PF-374, -35), Saints (401 PF-423 PA, -22) and Falcons (381 PF-417 PA, -36) finished with a negative overall Point Differential, and expect all three to rev up their Offenses—good for Overs—with the Saints and Brees probably passing more than any team in the NFL other than Andrew Luck and the Colts; the Falcons and QB Matt Ryan going deep to budding superstar WR Julio Jones (+2000, Regular Season Offensive MVP, 5Dimes) down in Hotlanta; and, the Panthers and a freshly signed QB Cam Newton using RB Stewart and WRs Kelvin Benjamin and top Draft Pick, Rookie Devin Funchess (Michigan) as they bounce back and win the NFC South the old fashioned way—with a record above the .500 mark and with more Points scored than allowed. Hopefully that won’t be asking too much from the much-maligned NFC South which had a combined record of 22-41-1 and a combined -227 Points accumulation vs opponents last season.
And if the Panthers can somehow upset host and defending NFC champions Seattle and QB Russell Wilson in the Emerald City in Week 6 (Panthers 1-4 ATS L5 vs Seahawks), Carolina could possibly be riding a wave of confidence for the rest of the Regular Season which sends them on a nice high into the NFC Playoffs with Oregon product Stewart potentially having a breakout year. And the schedule-makers were very kind to the NFC South this 2015/16 NFL Regular Season, giving them the AFC South (Jacksonville Jaguars—3-13, Tennessee Titans—2-14) and the NFC East (New York Giants—6-10, Washington Redskins—4-12). So, there will be plenty of really bad games between really bad teams this NFL season, including the Week 1 affair (Sept. 13) between the host Buccaneers and the Titans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (Buccaneers -3, Pinnacle) in what possibly could be both Tampa Bay Rookie Winston and Titans Rookie Marcus Mariota’s first games as pros and a dueling Heisman Trophy-winner showdown in the Sunshine State (CBS, 4:25 p.m. ET/1:25 p.m. PT). Buckle up.
NFC South Futures Odds & Prop Picks: Atlanta Falcons Regular Season Team Win Total Under 8 -140; Carolina Panthers Regular Season Team Win Total Over 8½ +115 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook); Carolina Panthers to win NFC South +245 (5Dimes); Super Bowl Matchup: Carolina Panthers—Baltimore Ravens 230/1 (5Dimes)
NFC South Related Week 1 Picks: Carolina Panthers -4 over Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville; Philadelphia Eagles PK over Atlanta Falcons at Atlanta, ESPN Monday Night Football (Eagles 9-4-1 ATS L14 vs Falcons) (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)