The NFC South is undergoing a rather seismic shift in 2020 with the arrival of Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The free agent decided it was time to move on from the New England Patriots and is joining Bruce Arians to replace Jameis Winston.
Suffice to say, this move has shaken up the odds to win the NFC South. DraftKings Sportsbook has been tracking divisional odds since Super Bowl 54 wrapped up, and the Brady signing was the big move. The New Orleans Saints remain the divisional favorites, but the Bucs now have the second best odds, and are within shouting distance of Drew Brees & Co.
New Orleans Saints (-110)
The Saints took care of their most important piece of business at the beginning of free agency when they re-signed Brees to a two-year deal. He missed five games this past season with a broken thumb, but put together a solid performance when healthy. The Saints might view Taysom Hill as their quarterback of the future, but for the time being, Brees remains their guy.
New Orleans opened the offseason at -155, but took a hit when the Bucs added Brady. It remains to be seen if Brady is enough to get the Bucs over the top, but Tampa Bay is going to be a betting public darling in the early going, so it makes sense the Saints took a hit in their divisional odds.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+170)
Jameis Winston could make plenty of huge plays, and in some ways offered more deep ball upside than Brady. He had a slightly lower passer rating on deep passes (97.1 to 102.1), but a slightly higher adjusted completion percentage (44.4 to 41.9). The big problem with Winston was his decision-making. The Bucs might lose some of the deep ball volume, but they will gain a ton in better decision-making moving from Winston to Brady.
The Bucs opened the offseason at +500, just behind the +300 Falcons. Adding Brady to an offense that already included Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and a defense that ranked fifth in efficiency justifies moving them ahead of the Falcons in odds. The Bucs will get a lot of love from bettors early on, but we’ll see how Brady & Co. look once they actually hit the field. This is arguably the best receiver duo Brady has ever had, so he could improve from last year. If he has not hit the wall, they will challenge the Saints for the division.
Atlanta Falcons (+600)
The Falcons made a few big changes this offseason. They signed edge rusher Dante Fowler, who is coming off an 11.5-sack season with the Los Angeles Rams. They lost Austin Hooper to the Cleveland Browns, and replaced him by adding Hayden Hurst in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Just as notable, they released Devonta Freeman, and replaced him by signing Todd Gurley after the Rams released their long-time running back. Running backs don’t really move the odds at this point, but it’s a notable change.
The Falcons opened the offseason at +300 to win the NFC South, second behind the Saints. The Bucs addition of Brady was the kind of upgrade that moves the needle, so it was not surprising to see the Falcons slip and the Bucs climb into the No. 2 spot. Brady is joining a talented roster, but he’s also getting up there in age. If he struggles out of the gate, the Falcons could push them for second in the division behind the Saints. If Brady shows a boost in joining Evans and Godwin, the Falcons could spend the year stuck in third.
Carolina Panthers (+1400)
Carolina is the biggest question mark of the four teams in the NFC South. There have been rumors of a potential divorce between quarterback Cam Newton and the Panthers. That become effectively official with the reports that the two sides agreed on Newton seeking a trade. There has been some turmoil since, but the bottom line is that Newton is out the door.
The Panthers are replacing Newton with Teddy Bridgewater, who signed a three year deal with the team. Bridgewater looked good at times in replacing an injured Drew Brees last season, but he also did not have nearly as much on his plate. He’s an upgrade over Kyle Allen, Will Grier, and an injured Cam Newton, but his ceiling is unclear for the time being. He’s the biggest question in the division.
The Panthers opened the offseason at +1100 and dropped to their current +1400 with the combination of Brady joining Tampa Bay and the Panthers making their quarterback decision. Bridgewater should prove an upgrade for Carolina from last season, but how much is tough to tell. Add in a defense that ranked 25th and lost cornerback James Bradberry in free agency, and they’ve got a ton of questions. They could surprise folks, but they need a lot to go right and need to hit well in the 2020 NFL Draft.
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