Breakdown of NFC South Futures Market

Tom Brady is out, and suddenly the NFC South feels wide open again. There are no truly dominant teams and it feels like you could make the case for almost anyone here. They all benefit from a soft schedule playing not only each other two times but also the weakest division in the AFC (The South). The Saints apparently don’t believe in rebuilding as they decide to roll the dice with new Quarterback Derek Carr. Atlanta and Carolina have put their fortunes in the hands of two unproven QBs. And Tampa Bay is hoping Baker Mayfield can revitalize his career in Florida. Let’s dive into the Markets.

Best Available Division Prices in Market 

New Orleans Saints +135 (FanDuel)

Atlanta Falcons +240 (Caesars)

Carolina Panthers +400 (DraftKings, Bet365)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800 (DraftKings, Caesars, BetRivers)

New Orleans Saints

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The Bull Case – They have the most proven Quarterback in the division, even if we know his ceiling is limited. They were better than their record suggested last year. According to Pythagorean Wins, they should have had 8.71 Wins instead of the 7 they actually had. That difference of 1.71 Wins is the 5th largest discrepancy of a team winning less than expected. The defense is still solid and was ravaged by injuries a ton last year. Have one of the five easiest schedules in the NFL this year.

The Bear Case – The O-line has continued to be on a downward spiral for years now. Their weapons feel thin outside of Chris Olave. And their coaching staff leaves a ton to be desired. It’s no slam dunk that Derek Carr will acclimate to a new team and new surroundings for the first time in nearly a decade. While he provides somewhat of a safe floor, his high ceiling is non-existent.

Atlanta Falcons

The Bull Case – They brought in a lot of new faces that lift the talent on the roster. Arthur Smith is in his 3rd year and is the longest-tenured Head coach in the division providing some continuity. The Defense alone brought in eight meaningful players in free agency. First-round pick Running back Bijan Robinson should bring an explosive element to this offense. Drake London and Kyle Pitts should also take another step forward entering their 2nd and 3rd years in the league. The offensive line looks to be one of the more formidable units this year. Quarterback Desmond Ridder is an unknown entity, so there’s a potential fat-tailed distribution with this team.

The Bear Case – Desmond Ridder is an unknown entity, so because of this, he could be really bad. While the roster has good foundational pieces and provides somewhat of a safe floor, really bad QB play would drag them down. While they brought in a lot of pieces defensively, they still have a shaky defense. Last year they created the 2nd fewest defensive Sacks in the league and if they can’t get a good consistent pass rush, they’re defense will likely get torched.

Carolina Panthers

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The Bull Case – The Carolina Panthers made the single best Head Coaching hire this off-season when they brought in Frank Reich. He made chicken salad out of chicken sh*t with the Indianapolis Colts, for several years before the lack of a QB and talent on the roster finally sunk them. But it’s not just him on the coaching staff I’m bullish on. He brought in a litany of coaches with talent and experience throughout the roster. Thomas Brown, Ejiro Evero, Jim Caldwell, Dom Capers, Josh McCown, and Duce Staley. The list is remarkable. From a player perspective, they brought in new weapons on offense. First in free agency signing QB Andy Dalton, RB Miles Sanders, WR Adam Thielen, WR D.J. Chark, and then through the draft bringing in Quarterback Bryce Young with the first overall pick, and Wide Receiver Jonathan Mingo in round two. Defensively Carolina had one of the more underrated defenses last year as well. There’s a lot to like about the direction the Panthers are heading in.

The Bear Case – They brought in all new weapons and there are gigantic question marks around offensive continuity. A new starting QB, RB, TE, and WR is a lot to change in one off-season. While there’s a lot of optimism that having a new Franchise Quarterback brings, oftentimes the team underperforms win expectations in the first year. In the last decade the six Quarterbacks to go first overall had the following records in their rookie years.

Trevor Lawrence 3-14
Joe Burrow 2-7-1
Kyler Murray 5-10-1
Baker Mayfield 6-7
Jared Goff 6-7
Jameis Winston 6-10

While there should be a couple of caveats to mention. This sample size leaves out the 7th Quarterback in this situation. Eleven years ago first overall pick Andrew Luck went 11-5 in his rookie year.

And most teams picking first overall were in fact the worst team the year before. The Carolina Panthers traded up to get into that spot, so they are already more talented than everyone on the list.

That being said unless you believe Bryce Young is the exception to the rule like Luck was, then it’s hard to see the Panthers at the top.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bull Case – I guess the bull case to make with the Bucs is that they didn’t opt for a full rebuild. They kept a lot of the weapons in place. They kept a big portion of their defense together. And they invested their draft picks into the trenches with the first three picks. But that’s as far as I’m willing to go in making their case.

The Bear Case – This roster, led by Quarterback Baker Mayfield, is a train wreck waiting to happen. The offense felt slow last year and was unable to create much down the field. The lack of separation will also be a problem for a QB like Baker who often airmails his throws. Todd Bowles is not a good Head Coach in the NFL. The league has been moving towards an understanding of optimal decision-making and pass-first offenses, and Todd Bowles is stuck in the past. His in-game decision-making often befuddles me. This team should have probably opted for the full rebuild and aimed for one of the franchise QBs coming out of the next draft. They may still get there if they get truly poor Quarterback play.

Power Ratings and Projected Win Totals

New Orleans Saints – 20th in my Power Ratings. 10.06 Projected Wins

Atlanta Falcons – 25th in my Power Ratings. 8.81 Projected Wins

Carolina Panthers – 26th in my Power Ratings. 7.75 Projected Wins

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 29th in my Power Ratings. 6.79 Projected Wins

You can see how much the easiness of each team’s schedule is bolstering their projected wins despite not being high in my Power Ratings. Two things I find my numbers didn’t capture. Atlanta and Carolina’s numbers could be a lot higher or a lot lower based on their range of outcomes. Picking a median outcome with teams like that can be an exercise in futility. And the other thing my numbers didn’t capture when it pertains to Tampa Bay is there is a potential for them to have a fire sale at the deadline and trade away most of their veteran pieces, bottoming out for a draft pick. So the 6.79 Projected wins feel too high.

Unfortunately, a lot of the markets in this division have already been bet heavy and moved into place. But I’ve found two bets I’d still make today at current market prices.

Bets I’m Making for NFC South Division

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Under 2.5 Division Wins -125 – Can be found at DraftKings

Bets I’m Making for Win Totals

New Orleans Over 9.5 +120 – Found at FanDuel and Caesars

The Saints’ early schedule is really soft. They start off at home to Tennessee, At Carolina, At Green Bay, Home to Tampa Bay, At New England, At Houston, Home to Jacksonville, At Indianapolis, and Home to Chicago. There will be several shots throughout the early weeks to buy back on an updated Season Win Total and create a giant middle for yourself.

If you missed my previous articles find them at the links below:

Cleaning up the AFC East Futures Market
Focusing on the NFC West Futures Market
Guide to Beat the AFC West Futures Market
Navigating the NFC East Futures Market
Beating the AFC South Futures Market
How to attack the NFC North Futures Market 




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George Tsilfidis, Detroit
George Tsilfidis, Detroit
George Tsilfidis is a Professional Sports Bettor with a Media Background. His goal is to write about Sports Betting through the lens of a Professional

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