2013 NFL Pick: NFC South Odds Preview &Prediction
Atlanta coasted to a NFC South division crown last year, but oddsmakers don’t expect the same this year. The Falcons are still given a very solid shot of winning the division, but this one of those divisions where literally any team in this division could come out on top and it wouldn’t be a big surprise.
New Orleans no longer has the baggage that they had prior to last season, and the Saints will be a viable contender again this year. Tampa Bay and Carolina are very competitive teams that should not be discounted either.
This is the final NFL divisional preview from BTBCappers. We’ll look at each team in the division and then provide a free pick for the winner of this division. All odds listed below are from Bovada.
Atlanta Falcons (+130)
The Falcons easily won this division last year, and they finally won a playoff game. Atlanta was very close to playing in the Super Bowl, but they couldn’t quite take care of business against the 49ers. Steven Jackson is a significant upgrade at running back, which should take pressure off Matt Ryan and the passing game. Michael Turner was really slowing down. On the other side, the offensive line seems to have lost some talent from last year.
Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez form what may be the best pass catching trio in the NFL. Matt Ryan is a very good quarterback, and he has all the tools necessary to continue to win. Defensively, the Falcons are counting on a breakout season from Desmond Trufant. They lost two good corners in the offseason. This defense needs to get a little more consistent for the Falcons to take that last step.
New Orleans Saints (+150)
The Saints had all kinds of turmoil surrounding this team last year, but they can start over and just play football this year. New Orleans has a ton of talent, especially on the offensive side of the football. Drew Brees can air it out with the best of them, and he has lots of weapons to throw the football to. The running game needs to be a little more consistent this year.
The big question for this team is can the defense step it up and not hold back the team? New Orleans allowed an NFL-record 7,042 yards on the year last year. The secondary was terrible and it was upgraded in the offseason. Rob Ryan was hired as the team’s new defensive coordinator. Ryan has a big job ahead of him, but if he can make this defense a formidable force then the Saints are capable of winning a Super Bowl.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+500)
Tampa Bay was the only team in the NFL to allow more passing yards than the Saints last season. It’s clear that Tampa Bay’s front office realized this was a weakness and worked long and hard to change that for the upcoming year. The Bucs pass defense instantly got a lot better when Darrell Revis came to town. Johnathan Banks should also help give the team some stability at the other cornerback spot. Dashon Goldson was a tremendous pickup at the safety spot. This secondary should be much better. The front four will need to get better at pressuring the passer as well, and that might be a problem.
Josh Freeman had a very disappointing year last year at the quarterback spot. Freeman will have to be better if the Bucs are going to keep up in this ultra-competitive division. Can he be consistent enough for this team to get to the playoffs?
Carolina Panthers (+550)
Will the real Carolina Panthers please stand up? Carolina started 3-9 last year before winning their last four games to finish 7-9. In those last four games, Carolina looked like a playoff team. Cam Newton and this offense clearly have a very high upside, but they are going to have to crank it up a little bit earlier this year. Carolina has the potential to be one of the best running offenses in all of football. Kenjon Barner gives this backfield even more athleticism this year.
Carolina’s defense improved a great deal as the season moved along last year. I like the Panthers moves of drafting Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. This should really help their run defense. The secondary is the biggest question mark for this defense. The secondary will be tested a lot in this division, so they’ll have to be good.
NFC South Free Pick: Falcons (+130)
The Saints are the popular pick for a lot of people, but I’m just not sure how quickly the defense will get better. Matt Ryan has a better group to work with than Drew Brees. It wouldn’t stun me to see Carolina competing in this division either. I’m less confident of Tampa Bay’s ability to stay in the picture.