The true NFL offseason is officially upon us. Mandatory minicamp has come to a close and players from all 32 teams have gone their separate ways. Most players will get some vacation time in while continuing to work out in preparation for the return to training camp in late July. Once training camp arrives, the road to Super Bowl 54 begins in earnest.
Each year, sports bettors are able to wager on where they think each team will finish up in the win column. Sportsbooks release a number for a team’s win total and you can bet over or under that number. If you land on the number, it’s a push, or tie.
Below are win totals for the four teams in the NFC South. The number in parenthesis is the juice on the over and the under. For example, if you bet the over on 10.5 wins for the Saints, the payout is +120 (you bet $100 to win $120). If you bet the under, the payout is -140 (you bet $140 to win $100). That means the under is the favorite.
Sportsbooks are not predicting each team will win the number of games on the win total. Rather, they are setting a number so that they can get a similar amount of money on both sides of the wager. They do not want an extensive liability on one side or the other since then they would be relying on a specific outcome. With even money on both sides of a wager, the house will profit more often than not.
Now that roster overhauls are mostly complete and teams have finished up spring workouts, we took a few minutes to chat with site managers from each SB Nation team blog. They offered reasons why their team could end up over the win total and why their team could end up under the win total. The sites pay close attention to their teams and have more insight than your average national reporter.
New Orleans Saints: 10.5 (+120, -140) — Canal Street Chronicles
Why over: Drew Brees holds off Father Time for one more year and combines with an improving defense to make another playoff run. Brees has shown some signs of decline recently, notably in road games, but it’s not unreasonable to bet on him keeping it up for another year. He won’t have Mark Ingram in the backfield, but when healthy, Latavius Murray has been a solid complementary option. Also, don’t sleep on the addition of tight end Jared Cook and the further development of wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith.
Meanwhile, the Saints have won 13 and 11 games the past two years in part because their defense has started to turn into one of the better in the league. The unit showed signs of growth last season, and the addition of rookie safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson gives them a chance to boost a secondary that struggled last season.
Why under: Drew Brees showed some signs of deterioration in the second half of last season, and is a year older. The departures of center Max Unger (retirement) and Mark Ingram (free agency) only further add to the potential question marks. Second-round pick Erik McCoy should slot in at starting center, but if he has some rookie hiccups, it could create problems for an offensive line that will also be moving on from Jermon Bushrod.
Atlanta Falcons: 8.5 (-130, +110) — The Falcoholic
Why over: The Falcons are loaded with talent and fixed their biggest weakness along the offensive line, and that’s the best reason to feel confident about their chances of hitting the over. They have one of the league’s scariest passing attacks, a deep, healthy running back group, and now a revamped offensive line. If the defense improves at all they’ll be lethal, but even if it doesn’t they ought to be a contender.
Why under: The defensive line now features what feels like 20 guys duking it out for 8-9 spots, but only Grady Jarrett and maybe Takk McKinley profile as excellent options there. Atlanta’s done a lot to upgrade their depth but can still only afford an injury or two before the lights dim on that side of the ball, and it’s far from clear that the defensive front can bring enough heat on opposing quarterbacks.
Carolina Panthers: 8 (-135, +115) — Cat Scratch Reader
Why over: The Panthers would have won more than seven games last season if not for Cam Newton’s shoulder falling apart over the last month of the season. Carolina started 2018 on a 6-2 run and then came crashing back down to earth after their embarrassing loss to the Steelers on Thursday Night Football — the same night that Newton suffered the hit that injured his shoulder. What followed was an ugly losing streak of seven straight games that ended in Week 17 against a Saints team that really wasn’t trying too hard to win. Assuming Newton’s offseason shoulder surgery was successful and he can return to his pre-injury form, the Panthers should win more than eight games in 2019.
Why under: Cam Newton underwent offseason shoulder surgery and there’s a chance that he’s not ready to go when the season starts. The Panthers drafted Will Grier as a backup option to groom for the future, but if Newton has to miss significant time in 2019 then the Panthers’ fate will be in the hands of either a third round rookie or a combination of Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke. The Panthers tried to use Allen and Heinicke at the end of 2018 and the results weren’t much to write home about, so it’s safe to assume that if Newton is out for an extended period in 2019, the Panthers won’t reach the eight win mark.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6.5 (Even, -120) — Bucs Nation
Why over: A new scheme and new coaches on defense might be what they’ve been missing. Moving on from Mike Smith to Todd Bowles is a big improvement in coaching. Personnel-wise, Tampa Bay’s secondary doesn’t look great, but Bowles’ presence and playcalling should help out. The loss of Jason Pierre-Paul will hurt their pass rush, but they might be able to put a band-aid over that wound by using Devin White and Lavonte David on blitzes up the middle.
Offensively, they’ll need fewer turnovers from Jameis Winston, but it’s probably safe to say that won’t be happening this year. Instead, they can try to revamp a running game that finished 24th in DVOA and 31st in yards per carry. Ronald Jones needs to step up after a disappointing rookie year. If he can, he can form a nice duo with Peyton Barber.
Why under: The defense is still really, really bad. Even with Bowles taking over as defensive coordinator, the Bucs still have an underwhelming secondary. Vernon Hargreaves and Ryan Smith are the longest tenured defensive backs on the teams and both of them were drafted in 2016. If Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh can mesh well together, the Bucs should have a nice interior duo, but they still don’t have any proven edge rushers following Jason Pierre-Paul’s injury.
Their schedule isn’t looking too easy either. Even though the Bucs have a “last place” schedule, they still play against the Falcons, Saints, and Panthers twice. Oh yeah, and they have to play the Rams and Seahawks on the road, the Colts and Texans at home, and open the season against an improved 49ers squad. Ouch. They might not have the secondary talent to keep pace with those teams.
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Odds and lines subject to change. See website for actual odds.
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