Today we examine the NFC South looking at the football futures betting lines at Bodog.
New Orleans Saints: 5-8
The defending Super Bowl Champs enter 2010 a heavy favorite in the division. Personnel wise, they didn't sustain any major losses on either side of the ball. However, there will be differences this year from a year ago. The Saints are no longer the hunters but the hunted, and no longer have the luxury of facing a last place schedule. They will now face a first place caliber lineup. Offensively, it should be business as usual. QB Drew Brees will still be Drew Brees and Sean Payton is one of the brightest offensive minds in the game, and they're deep at the skill positions. On defense, DC Gregg Williams proved to be the difference maker, taking a bunch of overachievers and getting the most out of them through his system. They should be competitive right back.
Atlanta Falcons: 2-1
The Falcons found the 2009 campaign tougher as the defending NFC South Champs. A mid season injury to RB Michael Turner threw the entire offense out of sync, and too much pressure was placed on then 2nd year QB Matt Ryan. Through it all, they still finished a respectable 9-7 and appear poised to recapture the division title. They're loaded at the skill positions as well (WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez, RB Michael Turner) and Ryan's now entering his third year in the NFL. The Falcons upgraded their defense with the signing of CB Dunta Robinson and addressed pieces of the front seven in the Draft. The return of last year's top pick, DT Peria Jerry, will impact the entire defensive line.
Carolina Panthers: 6-1
The Panthers finished 2009 on a roll after handing the QB job to Matt Moore. However, the team lost DE Julius Peppers in Free Agency, and his loss could prove huge to the defense. He was their main pass rushing threat. The offense should be pretty consistent and perhaps explosive, with the best one-two combo at running back (RB Jonathan Stewart and RB DeAngelo Williams) in the league, and WR Steve Smith on the outside. Whether the defensive line can pressure opposing QBs is going to be what ultimately determines how well this team does. HC John Fox is an excellent defensive mind but will have his work cut out for him this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 20-1
The franchise took a huge step back a year ago and only won three games. HC Raheem Morris struggled mightily and, after the 0-6 start, handed the keys to the franchise to rookie QB Josh Freeman, who showed flashes of promise over the 2nd half of the season. The Bucs still need major upgrades at all of the skill positions, with the exception of Tight End. On defense, the team drafted heavily along the defensive line with its top two picks, after being annihilated on the ground a year ago. The team should improve, but it takes time for young players to come together. Last place is a realistic expectation in 2010.
Pro Football 101 Betting Strategy:
We think the Atlanta Falcons at 2-1 is an excellent football bet and provides great value. They're facing a 2nd place schedule, are loaded on offense, upgraded their defense, and won't have the bulls eye on their backs like the Saints will. New Orleans is a suckers football bet at 5-8. Many things went their way a year ago which will not this year. They'll still be tough, and will certainly be Wild Card contenders, but facing a 1st place schedule rather than last means second place is their ceiling in 2010.