While the NFC South may be wide open, it may also mean that the NFL odds value is large.
While the Saints may be the current favorite to finish on top in this division, they are far from a lock in the NFL odds. I do like some of the improvements they have made to their defense this offseason, but there has been a lot of turnover in the secondary, and it remains to be seen whether or not the Saints will have success against the pass like they did a season ago. They have also had some turnover on the offensive line, and if they cannot protect Drew Brees, they will be derailed before they even get going this season. Although they do seem like the strongest team in the NFC South, I think their price of +125 may be a bit overvalued compared to the team they currently have.
Despite going an impressive 12-4 during the regular season, and winning the division, the Panthers come into this season as underdogs in the NFC South to the Saints. The Panthers should be a pretty good team, especially on defense, but Greg Hardy was just arrested for domestic violence, and it remains to be seen whether or not there will be disciplinary action on the legal or league level. Another issue for the Panthers this season is their wide receiving core. Steve Smith moved up the road to Baltimore, and Carolina now has a rookie 1st round pick and a whole lot of nothing at wide receiver. Cam Newton can’t throw it to himself, so I’m concerned the Panthers won’t have enough offensive power to compete with the other high-powered offenses of this division.
Atlanta may be the most undervalued team in this division, and if their offense can rebound from injury-plagued-2013, this team has some upside in this open division. The question for them (outside of Julio Jones’ health) is their defense. If Atlanta can’t stop the offense of the Saints, they stand no chance to beat them. If there have been improvements on that end of the football, this team has some of the better value within the division, however, if their defense is just average or below average, the Falcons won’t take flight very long this year.
Tampa is bringing up the rear in this division, but much like the Falcons, they aren’t getting a ton of love from the sportsbooks. Nonetheless, they still have some value this season. At over 5/1, the Bucs might have one of the better defenses in the division, and with Lovie Smith coming in, you know their defense is going to be above average. Their offense may be another story, but even with a second-year quarterback, this team has some great offensive weapons to go to when healthy. It might not come this season, but this team is on track to compete in this division very soon. Keep your NFL betting eye on them when making your picks.