NFC South Odds: Can The Saints Win The Division?

Chances are if you play in a division with Tom Brady, you will always be playing for second.

In 20 years as a starter, Brady has led his team to a division title 18 times. Those are just the cold, hard facts.

But here in the Pelican State, we’re all about the glass half full. While TB12 may have won 17 crowns in the AFC East, in two seasons in the NFC South, he’s only won one. The other winner in that span? The New Orleans Saints.

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Reasons for Excitement

While Drew Brees has since retired, Sean Payton has departed, and Michael Thomas hasn’t played football in two years, there’s still a gust of optimism blowing in bayou country.

The Saints have a revamped offense that includes slot sensation Jarvis Landry, electrifying first-round pick Chris Olave, and the triumphant return of Can’t Guard Mike.

They’ll also have Jameis Winston back, who was quietly having a solid season last year until his knee exploded in a Week 8 game against Tampa Bay. A game they won, by the way – something they’ve done against the Bucs seven straight times in the regular season.

Unsurprisingly, the sportsbooks have the Buccaneers as heavy favorites to win the division again this year. Can the Saints sink their ship and send Brady into a permanent retirement? Let’s break it down and look at some of the best sports betting options for the NFC South.

NFC South Odds

Tampa Bay Buccaneers-270-250-285-300
New Orleans Saints+350+310+350+340
Carolina Panthers+1000+900+1000+1100
Atlanta Falcons+2500+3500+2800+3500

Why the Saints Could Win the Division

New Orleans finished at 9-8 last year, narrowly missing the Wild Card game after losing out in a tiebreaker to the Philadelphia Eagles. The season got off to an ominous start when the Saints were displaced from their home stadium for the first month, thanks to Hurricane Ida, and things only got worse from there.

The highly anticipated return of Michael Thomas didn’t happen, Famous Jameis tore his ACL, and the New Orleans quarterback position was at the mercy of an unsavory combination of Trevor Siemian, Taysom Hill, and Ian Book – who was not much of a page-turner. All that to say that things can only go up from here.

The Saints now have some legit weapons on offense, and if Winston can stay on the field, this team should be able to put some points on the board. By all accounts, Thomas looks healthy in training camp, and rookie wideout Chris Olave has already been turning heads with his insane separation ability. Alvin Kamara will continue to do Alvin Kamara things on the field, with the only question mark being his looming suspension for something he did off the field.

Defense Should be Strong Again

The defense was outstanding last year, ranking fourth in points per game (19.7), fourth in rush yards (93.5), fourth in opposing passer rating (81.7), seventh in total yards (318.2), and first in opponent red zone percent (43.5). They should see similar results this year, with most of the core returning, including Cameron Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, and Demario Davis. They also added former Super Bowl winner and hometown guy Tyrann Mathieu, who wreaks havoc wherever he goes.

The Saints don’t have an easy schedule (tied with Raiders for 7th toughest), but if they can at least split their two games with the Bucs, things could get interesting down the stretch. It will be important for New Orleans to come out of the gates strong and build some momentum. The Saints play three of their first five games against the Falcons, Panthers, and Seahawks – all winnable, to say the least. The other two include Minnesota on the road and a home game against Tampa in Week 2. If the Saints can start the season at 4-1, which seems realistic, the division will suddenly look within reach.

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Why the Saints Will Finish in the Top Two

This one is a lot easier. The reason the Saints will finish in the top two is that the Falcons and Panthers are terrible. The Dirty Birds will need more than a bath to get rid of the stink they’re about to produce this season. Matt Ryan has bolted, Calvin Ridley has gambled his way to a year-long suspension, and the team’s best running back is a wide receiver.

Marcus Mariota is a quarterback best served as a backup, and rookie Desmond Ridder may or may not be an NFL-level QB. Either way, the offense is going to be a disaster this year. Sure, they have a couple of future stars like TE Kyle Pitts and this year’s first-round-pick Drake London, but this team is a long way from competing.

Panthers QB Situation in Flux

As for the Panthers, they’re in a slightly better position than the Falcons, but not by much. The Panthers finished 5-12 last year, and you’d imagine Matt Rhule’s seat is feeling awfully hot right about now. This year they’ve doubled down and brought in another bad quarterback to compete with their current bad quarterback.

Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield (both top five picks in 2018) will likely take turns bringing in their gas cans and stoking the flames of the dumpster fire that is the Panthers’ offense. Carolina finished third worst in total yards per game last year (298.9) and mustered under 200 yards (190.5) through the air per contest.

If you combined Mayfield (3,101) and Darnold’s (2,527) passing yards from last year, they would have narrowly edged out Tom Brady (5,316) for the league lead. Unfortunately, you can’t do that in real life. And that’s why the Panthers currently have season win total odds of 5.5.

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NFC South Odds: Top Two Exact

1. New Orleans Saints
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1.Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2. New Orleans Saints
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Carolina Panthers
1. Carolina Panthers
2. New Orleans Saints
1. New Orleans Saints
2. Atlanta Falcons
1. Atlanta Falcons
2. New Orleans Saints

NFC South Odds: Top Two Any Order

New Orleans Saints/Tampa Bay Buccaneers-195-200-220N/A
New Orleans Saints/Carolina Panthers+2100+2200+2200N/A
New Orleans Saints/Atlanta Falcons+5000+5000+5000N/A


About the Author

Ryan Hagen

Ryan Hagen is a communications graduate of Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He’s spent most of his career writing in roles that have ranged from copywriter at a boutique ad agency to corporate communications at a large oil firm. His true passion is sports, and he’s now been writing in the sports gaming industry for the last couple of years. He enjoys sports betting and usually bets a little too much when he loses and not quite enough when he wins. Hagen’s favorite teams include the Seattle Seahawks (tears have been shed recently), the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Calgary Flames. He's enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for the last five years and tends to hang his hat where the food is best. He is currently residing in beautiful Oaxaca, Mexico, where he is hurting his brain daily trying to learn Spanish.