NFC South Betting Preview: Saints the favorite, Tom Brady’s Bucs have next-best odds

When Tampa Bay signed Tom Brady to a two-year, $50 million contract on March 20, the odds on the Buccaneers to win the NFC South plummeted. His acquisition has oddsmakers projecting Tampa to win nine games in 2020, and the Buccaneers’ betting odds to win the NFC South have dropped to +200, just behind the favorite Saints (-125).

In addition to trying to stop the Saints from winning their fourth straight division title, and Brady will look to lead Tampa Bay to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Previewing the Buccaneers

Tampa Bay had one of the best offenses in the NFL in 2020, and the Buccaneers should be even better with Brady at the helm. While Brady is 43 and clearly fell off somewhat during the 2019 season, he is still an efficient quarterback and won’t make anywhere close to the number of mistakes that Jameis Winston made for the Buccaneers. Winston threw an NFL-high 30 interceptions last season, but Brady has not thrown more than 12 interceptions in any season over the past decade.

Brady will have real weapons to work with in Tampa Bay, too. The Buccaneers have two Pro Bowl receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and they have two solid tight ends in O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate. Evans has been one of the NFL’s best wideouts since he joined the league, while Godwin emerged as an excellent complement last season. Howard is one of a handful of tight ends that can stretch the field, and Brate is one of the best red-zone threats around.

Even if Brady doesn’t have the same arm strength he did in the past, Bruce Arians will be able to come up with an effective scheme to use all that talent at the skill positions. Despite Winston’s many mistakes, Tampa Bay was fourth in scoring offense (28.6 points per game) and third in total offense (397.9 yards per game) last season.

The defense looks to be sharp, too. Shaq Barrett was franchise tagged after an excellent season where he led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, and Devin White appears to be one of the top young linebackers in the game. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea will make it difficult to run on this front seven, but the secondary has some issues that quarterbacks like Drew Brees and Matt Ryan could exploit.

NFC South Opponents

The Buccaneers toughest division foe is expected to be the Saints. New Orleans is favored by 5.5 points over Tampa Bay in the Big Easy, while the return game in Raymond James Stadium is projected as a pick ‘em. Drew Brees and Michael Thomas are the deadliest passing combination in the NFL, and the Saints are expected to be much better on defense with Sheldon Rankins and Marcus Davenport returning from injury to help keep Cameron Jordan from seeing numerous double teams. Marshon Lattimore gives the Saints a lockdown cornerback in a division with excellent receivers, so it will be tough to best the Saints if Brees is still Brees.

Atlanta won six of its past eight games to close out the regular season and went 4-2 in division play in 2019. The Falcons added Todd Gurley and Hayden Hurst in free agency, and Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley make up one of the top receiving tandems in the league. However, the big questions are on defense. Atlanta needs Keanu Neal and Deion Jones to stay healthy and play to their potential, and the Falcons are hoping that Dante Fowler Jr. continues to come into his own after being signed from the Rams.

Tampa Bay is favored by 6.5 points over Atlanta at home, and the Bucs are a short road favorite in the ATL in their two games this season.

The Panthers are rebuilding in their first year under head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Carolina could be the worst team in the league after releasing Cam Newton in March, and this team’s season win total has been set at just 5.5 games. Unsurprisingly, the Buccaneers are 4.5-point road favorites against the Panthers and nearly double-digit favorites against Carolina in Tampa Bay.

2020 NFL Win Totals: NFC South

Odds courtesy of BetOnline

Atlanta Falcons
Over 7.5 (-125)
Under 7.5 (+105)

Carolina Panthers
Over 5.5 (+100)
Under 5.5 (-120)

New Orleans Saints
Over 10 (-140)
Under 10 (+120)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Over 9 (-125)
Under 9 (+105)

Odds to Win NFC South

Odds courtesy of BetOnline

New Orleans Saints (-125)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+200)
Atlanta Falcons (+600)
Carolina Panthers (+1200)

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