DraftKings Sportsbook has gone ahead and released the odds to win each NFL division in 2020. With free agency and the draft still to come, betting on division winners now gives us some room to potentially find some value. With a combination of looking back at 2019, and projecting for 2020, here’s where the potential value lies in the NFC South for the upcoming season.
New Orleans Saints (-155)
The Saints were favored to win the NFC South in 2019 and entered the season at -167. They won the division and retained all their most important pieces, so it’s easy to see why the they have an advantage. Despite Drew Brees going down with a thumb injury early in the year, New Orleans was able finish the season with a 13-3 record. Teddy Bridgewater proved he can be a starting quarterback while Michael Thomas made NFL history by breaking the NFL’s record for receptions (149) in a single season. The Saints’ first-round playoff loss to the Minnesota Vikings was unexpected, but the team is still strong.
New Orleans’ quarterback situation is an interesting one. Brees, 41, is likely nearing retirement. Bridgewater, on the other hand, is looking to land a long-term gig. Brees has said he wants to return for another season in New Orleans, and it appears like Bridgewater is poised to test the the waters of free agency. The multifaceted Taysom Hill could become Brees’ full-time backup if Bridgewater leaves, but the quarterback and utility player has only thrown for 119 yards in three NFL seasons. Running back Alvin Kamara and New Orleans’ defense shouldn’t be a problem, but worrying about aging signal caller that could begin to decline soon is something every team looks to avoid.
Atlanta Falcons (+300)
The Falcons lost six straight games after topping the Philadelphia Eagles in their season opener, but rallied to finish the year 7-9. Atlanta trailed only the Saints in the division and had the same record as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Falcon’s 6-2 record in the back half of 2019 was tied for best in the division. Matt Ryan is still a top-tier quarterback, and he has an elite weapon in Julio Jones. Calvin Ridley and Devonta Freeman can also be serviceable offensive tools. The other side of the ball needs work though.
Atlanta’s secondary wasn’t great in 2019. Five defensive backs are entering unrestricted free agency, so that solidifying the cornerback and safety positions should be a priority. The Falcons also need to find Grady Jarrett help on the defensive line. Being a more well-rounded team in general could help the Falcons be a lot better.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+500)
Tampa Bay’s trial year under quarterback whisperer Bruce Arians was an interesting one. He came out of retirement to work with Jameis Winston and got mixed results. Winston led the NFL in passing yards (5,109) and interceptions (30). He could put up huge numbers against good teams, but his decision making often came back to bite him. The Bucs’ defense was headlined by a fierce group up front that gave up the fewest rushing yards (1,118) in the NFL.
There could be a new face under center in 2020, as Winston is looking to secure a major contract as an unrestricted free agent. The quarterback market is very saturated though, as names like Philip Rivers, Tom Brady, and others are available. There’s also depth in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Carolina Panthers (+1100)
The Panthers entered this season hoping Cam Newton would be back on top after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder. But misfortune struck early in the year. Newton suffered a foot fracture that caused him to be benched for the year after just two games. He didn’t throw for a single touchdown and tallied one interception. Running back Christian McCaffrey had a historic year and totaled more than 1,000 rushing yards and receiving yards. He alone can’t save Carolina though.
The Panthers appear to be preparing for a split from Newton via trade ahead of his unrestricted free agency in 2021. They don’t appear to have a suitable replacement in sight, as Will Grier and Kyle Allen both have some work to do. Both Carolina’s starting cornerbacks — James Bradberry and Ross Cockrell — are unrestricted free agents. Then there’s a big whole to fill at linebacker now that Luke Kuechly has retired. The Panthers will have to make some major moves to be competitive in 2020 if they move on from Newton.
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