NFC South Division Betting Preview
The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints made their visit to the White House this week. Will another NFC South division title be their first step to another trip to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
New Orleans Saints Last season the Saints won the NFC South with a 13-3 record. Not surprisingly they're heavily favored to repeat as division champs at -160, but history is actually against them. Since the division's creation no one has ever repeated as the NFC South champion, and the last place team has gone from worst to first in six of the last seven seasons.
The Saints shouldn't be scared by history, though. They still boast one of the top offenses in the NFL led by quarterback Drew Brees. Last season Brees passed for 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns and he once again has a bounty of receivers. Marques Colston and Robert Meachem headline a unit that also includes Devery Henderson, Lance Moore, and Jeremy Shockey.
Opposing defenses also have to contend with the dynamic duo of Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush in the backfield. Defensively the Saints should continue to improve under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for another season. Scott Fujita's exodus leaves a significant hole both on and off the field, but with the likes of Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, and Darren Sharper still around the Saints' D will be tough.
Atlanta Falcons The team with the best shot at unseating the Saints in the South should be the Falcons. They follow New Orleans on the odds at +175. Matt Ryan had a solid sophomore season last year, but injuries took their toll on the Falcons' once strong running game and limited Michael Turner. Look for a bounce-back season from Turner and more growth from Ryan as he retains both Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez.
Carolina Panthers The Panthers have been considered contenders in the South for years, but they've entered a rebuilding phase and plug in at +600. Gone is QB Jake Delhomme, and Matt Moore inherits the starting gig with rookie Jimmy Clausen waiting in the wings. Carolina should be strong on the ground again with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, but they still lack another elite receiver to line up with Steve Smith. The Panthers' defense may also be in for a rough season after Julius Peppers left for Chicago and Thomas Davis was lost for likely most of the season due to a knee injury.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Buccaneers are also in rebuild mode, and after a 3-13 season last year not much is expected from Tampa Bay, listed at +1500. Josh Freeman enters his second season at QB but his lame receiving corps consists of unproductive veterans (Mark Clayton, Reggie Brown) and rookies hoping to make their mark (Arrelious Benn, Mike Williams). Kellen Winslow is their best receiver on paper, but he's coming off another knee surgery.
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