NFC South Odds & Predictions: A Saints bet

A couple of years ago the NFC South was one of the NFL’s best divisions, but now the odds tells you it might be the worst.

In early 2021 we had the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints locking horns in the playoffs for the right to go to the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. The Bucs of course prevailed and went on to win yet another Super Bowl for Tom Brady. How times change.

Now we have the prospect of the Bucs – with Brady back after a retirement which lasted less than 40 days – strolling to a division title over three teams who have regressed badly.

New Orleans failed to land a big-name replacement for the retired Drew Brees while Atlanta and Carolina appear to be in full rebuild mode, both yet to find their next franchise QBs.

It all adds up to a pretty one-sided betting line, with the offseason moves just emphasizing that fact.

NFC South Odds for 2022

QB movements in the last month have solidified the narrative here in a huge way. Brady unretiring, the Saints failing to land Deshaun Watson and the Falcons trading away Matt Ryan means we now have the least competitive division in the NFL – at least from a betting perspective. Here are the latest odds:

  • -300 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DraftKings)
  • +400 New Orleans Saints (bet365)
  • +1300 Carolina Panthers (FanDuel)
  • +2500 Atlanta Falcons (DraftKings)

NB: Odds correct on June 8, 2022

NFC South Predictions for 2022

Unless you have a huge pile of chips to put on the Bucs you are unlikely to get rich betting on the Futures line just to win the NFC South. Taking -300 is the only sensible play if you want a return, but it’s grim stuff.

Right now we cannot envisage any scenario other than Tampa winning the division, so we’ll look elsewhere for our bets as we try to find something a little more interesting for you.

The next best thing is looking at the Over/Under lines for regular season wins, and we have a slight fancy for New Orleans here, with the Saints being set at 8.5.

The loss of Sean Payton in the offseason will bite, but at least Dennis Allen provides continuity in the building and the team did go all in on 2022 by acquiring that extra first-round pick.

It is not like there are no question mark about New Orleans, but remember this, it plays four games a season vs awful Atlanta and creaking Carolina. Every chance that is 4-0 for starters. The factor in this Saints defense destroyed Brady and the Bucs twice in 2021. The second time in a shutout in Florida.

Our advice is to have a small interest in the Over 8.5 line.

OddsCritic Predictions & Best Bets

  • New Orleans Saints to have Over 8.5 regular season wins at +100 (PointsBet)

Offseason moves: Free agency and trades

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The offseason down in Florida has been an astonishing tale of two halves. The first was pretty desperate with Brady retiring and the threat of losses in free agency. The second was the greatest of revivals as Brady unretired, Chris Godwin signed a long-term deal and the Bucs also snagged former Falcon Russell Gage to beef up their receiving options. The final major change in recent weeks came at the end of April when head coach Bruce Arians retired, handing the reins to DC Todd Bowles. Arians is a miss, but Brady matters above all and Tampa is way stronger with him back. The Bucs are even favorites to win the NFC Championship now.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints once again recovered from what looked like cap hell, but whether they are a better team now is a huge question mark. The first offseason blow came with the retirement of HC Sean Payton – ending an unprecedented era of success. The Saints then went all in on acquiring Deshaun Watson from Houston, but when that failed they were left picking up the pieces at QB. Jameis Winston signed a two-year deal to remain the answer for now while Andy Dalton will be the backup. Taysom Hill meanwhile will revert to TE. The Saints also lost their LT Terron Armstead, who bolted for the Miami Dolphins in free agency to be replaced by ‘Mr Nasty’ Trevor Penning in the NFL Draft. New Orleans also traded up (again) to grab Ohio State WR Chris Olave – we like the player but not the price it took to get there. The Saints clearly believe they can contend again in 2022 but we are not so sure. They’ll manage to at least be respectable again, but at some stage the cap will really bite.

Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons finally admitted they are in full rebuild mode following the decision to trade Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick in March. Atlanta will still have to eat Ryan’s $40million cap hit in 2022, so any notion of turning things around quickly can be forgotten. This is likely to be a year of planning for the future. Marcus Mariota is the cost-effective replacement for Ryan at QB while the Falcons also drafted rookie Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati. Taking him in Round 3 was smart – a low-cost gamble with a huge upside if it works. Atlanta also had major problems at receiver with Calvin Ridley suspended for a year and the aforementioned Gage bolting in free agency but they plugged that gap somewhat by taking USC stud Drake London at #8 overall. There is once again a lot weighing on the shoulders of the unicorn Kyle Pitts in 2022. It could get ugly before it gets better down in Georgia.

Carolina Panthers: Matt Rhule went into the offseason in Charlotte knowing he ABSOLUTELY HAD TO find a solution for the Panthers at QB. Well, the jury is out as to whether he did. First off Rhule and the Panthers swung for the fences in a bid to persuade Deshaun Watson that his future should be in Charlotte – no surprised he balked. So despite the Sam Darnold experiment failing miserably in 2021 after a promising 3-0 start, it appears he will be the man under center in 2022 – at least to start the season. Carolina did invest a third-round draft pick in Ole Miss standout Matt Corral – low risk and potentially high upside. At some stage in 2022, Corral could get the call to replace Darnold, likely sooner rather than later. Watch this space.

NFC South Schedules for 2022

We don’t know when the games will be played yet, but we do know each team’s 2022 opponents:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks

Road: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers

New Orleans Saints

Home: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks

Road: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers

Atlanta Falcons

Home: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers

Road: Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, Washington Football Team

Carolina Panthers

Home: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Arizona Cardinals, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers

Road: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks