The 2020 NFL Draft is a wrap, and 90-man rosters are close to settled for most teams. There are a few big names still to be signed, and there will be plenty of minor transactions over the summer, but the largest volume of maneuvering is complete. For the NFC South, we’ve seen big changes at quarterback, as Cam Newton is now a free agent and Teddy Bridgewater is the starter in Carolina and the reigning passing yards leader, Jameis Winston, is out while the future Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, is in.
Back in February, DraftKings Sportsbook released divisional odds, and the New Orleans Saints were big favorites to win the South, but that changed in a hurry after the Buccaneers signed Brady, Rob Gronkowski and drafted some offensive line help. The two teams now sit neck and neck with the Buccaneers as slight favorites.
We’ll break down each team’s divisional championship odds along with noting key additions and departures. (*=rookie)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Feb: +500, Post-draft: +105)
Notable additions: QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski, OT Tristan Wirfs*, S Antoine Winfield Jr.*, RB Ke’Shawn Vaughn*
Notable departures: QB Jameis Winston, OLB Carl Nassib, WR Breshad Perriman, RB Peyton Barber
The Buccaneers are an older team now, but have moved into the favorites position to win the division. In the end, their season completely relies on Brady’s arm and if he’s still got any juice left. The addition of Gronkowski and offensive lineman Tristan Wirfs will make a big difference but Brady will need to be able to make the throws. On paper, the Bucs are set up to win.
New Orleans Saints (Feb: -155, Post-draft: +110)
Notable additions: S Malcolm Jenkins, WR Emmanuel Sanders, QB Jameis Winston, C Cesar Ruiz*, LB Zack Baun*
Notable departures: S Vonn Bell, OLB A.J. Klein, QB Teddy Bridgewater
The Saints had a strong offseason but the Buccaneers stronger offseason pushed the Saints odds to win the South down. The addition of Malcolm Jenkins and Emmanuel Sanders were two needed positions that both get big upgrades. Then, their draft helped them fill a hole at linebacker with Zack Baun and add strength to a strong offensive line with Cesar Ruiz. Then, to add to their already stacked team, they get Winston as their backup quarterback. I understand why the Buccaneers’ odds had positive movement but there’s really no reason they should be favored ahead of the Saints.
Atlanta Falcons (Feb: +300, Post-draft: +1000)
Notable additions: RB Todd Gurley, OLB Dante Fowler, TE Hayden Hurst, CB A.J. Terrell*, DT Marlon Davidson*
Notable departures: OLB De’Vondre Campbell, OLB Vic Beasley, TE Austin Hooper, RB Devonta Freeman, CB Desmond Trufant
The Falcons didn’t do much this offseason besides trying to keep the status quo. They Lost Austin Hooper and replaced him with Hayden Hurst and lost Desmond Trufant and replaced him with rookie A.J. Terrell. That makes for a net loss but not nearly as bad as it could have been. Atlanta still has their core offense and added Todd Gurley to take over for Devonta Freeman. Running back doesn’t make or break a team but if Gurley can give them a boost at the position and stay healthy, he could help the team. But, after a 7-9 record last season and the Saints and Buccaneers improving, they’ve firmly fallen into third place in projections after not making many improvements this offseason.
Carolina Panthers (Feb: +1100, Post-draft: +2000)
Notable additions: WR Robby Anderson, OLB Tahir Whitehead, OG John Miller, OT Russell Okung, DT Derrick Brown*, DE Yeture Gross-Matos*
Notable departures: S Eric Reid, CB James Bradberry, OG Trai Turner, QB Kyle Allen, OL Daryl Williams, TE Greg Olsen, OG Greg Van Roten, OLB Mario Addison, DE Gerald McCoy
The Panthers did a lot of moving and shaking this offseason but in the end, they are still the team that went 5-11 last season and lot their star quarterback, Cam Newton. Teddy Bridgewater comes in for Newton and will be an upgrade over Kyle Allen who started the bulk of 2019. Under new head coach Matt Rhule, there is even more uncertainty to a team that already had plenty of uncertainty without him. Rhule was hired due to his ability to turn around losing college programs, so the Panthers hope that is the trajectory, but we can’t expect it year one.
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