2020 NFC South Divisional Futures Predictions
The quarterbacks in the NFC South have a combined 11 Super Bowl appearances and seven Super Bowl titles. Of course, that happens when Tom Brady and his unmatched resume join the division.
Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will challenge Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints for the top of the NFC South. The Atlanta Falcons should be a step behind while the Panthers are in the middle of an aggressive rebuilding stage.
Let’s take a look:
Odds To Win The NFC South Division
|New Orleans Saints||-110|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+140|
|Bet On The NFC South Division Winner At|
New Orleans Saints -110
The Saints have won the NFC South three times in a row, posting 13 wins in each of the last three seasons. Yet, the team didn’t advance from the divisional playoffs round either time.
New Orleans has lost six straight playoff games by 8 points or fewer. That’s the most by any team in NFL history.
The Saints know that with Brady in Tampa Bay, they need to be close to perfect to retain the divisional title. Their first game of the season will be hosting the 43-year-old QB and his new team.
Not As Great At Home
New Orleans hasn’t been as great at home as the narrative might suggest. Since 2014 they are 32-22 at home, and in 2020 their loud fans won’t be around to help them.
The Saints have one of the best teams in the entire league, and it might even be better this season. WR Michael Thomas set an NFL record with 149 receptions on 185 targets (80.5%). He’s the most dominant wideout in the league.
Sanders & Thomas = Bomb WR Duo
Across from him will be Emmanuel Sanders, trying to get back to the Super Bowls after losing the last one with San Francisco. The combination between Sanders and Thomas is the best WR duo QB Drew Brees has had in his career.
The Saints’ defense doesn’t get the respect it deserves, but the unit is excellent. DE Cameron Jordan remains one of the league’s most underrated pass rushers, CB Marshon Lattimore is one of the best corners in the NFL, and they just signed S Malcolm Jenkins. His experience should make a huge difference.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +140
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are an intriguing team in 2020. They led the league in passing yards, were third in total yards and fourth in points scored in 2019. Yet, the team is expected to improve this season.
With Tom Brady under center, the stats won’t matter as much. It’s all about the wins. The Bucs were a 7-9 team because Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions in 2019. Brady hasn’t thrown over 14 in his career.
The Offense: Even More Talent Than They Might Need!
Brady will get to throw to Chris Godwin and Mike Evans, both of whom recorded over 1000 receiving yards a year ago. WR Scotty Miller is also an exciting option in the slot position.
Then there is the loaded tight end position. OJ Howard and Cameron Brate are young players who can make big plays for this team. Tom will also get to throw the ball to one of his favorite players ever, Rob Gronkowski. The chemistry between those two is uncanny.
The offensive line improved with the first-round selection of Tristan Wirfs from Iowa. And even if the o-line is a little shaky, they have enough tight end to bulk it and protect Brady.
Talent-wise, this Buccaneers offense has to be one of the best Tom Brady has ever had, perhaps only compared to the 2007 New England Patriots.
Their Defense Is Solid Too
Although the media is only interested in talking about Brady and the offense, the Bucs defense is in good shape. Ndamukong Suh and Vita Vea led the best run defense in the league in 2019.
OLB Shaquil Barrett led the league with an insane 19.5 sacks last season while the middle of the defense is well secured with Lavonte David and Devin White.
Perhaps the most significant question mark in the secondary defense. There aren’t many names suggesting the team has a rising star.
Even so, the Buccaneers are a real menace to the Saints’ regime in the NFC South.
Atlanta Falcons +700
Coach Dan Quinn saved his head coaching job last season after he fired himself as the defensive coordinator. The Falcons defense ranked 32nd against the pass in the first half of the 2019 season, allowing 19 TDs and intercepting just two passes.
Quinn let go of the defensive duties to save his butt. The Falcons improved in the second half after linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich and wide receivers coach Raheem Morris shared the play-calling duties. It’s a strange approach, but it worked. The team won six of the final eight games.
Atlanta’s Defense: Dante Fowler Jr. + Rookies
The defense lost veteran names like Vic Beasley Jr., Desmond Trufant, Adrian Clayborn, and De’Vondre Campbell. They signed OLB Dante Fowler Jr. and a few rookies to improve on speed.
LB Deion Jones remains one of the best linebackers in modern football, but the team needs to give him some help. Safety Keanu Neal is fantastic when healthy, but that’s rarely the case. He has played only four games in the last two seasons.
The Defense Remains A Question Mark
They showed potential in the second half of 2019, but can they sustain it throughout the season? I’m not sure.
QB Matt Ryan has been in the shadow of Drew Brees for years in the NFC South. Now he has to deal with Tom Brady. Ryan’s history with Brady is something that doesn’t need a reminder.
Ryan was sacked a career-high 48 times in 2019. The Falcons didn’t do much to protect him. Their only move was adding center Matt Hennessy in the third round of the draft.
Exciting Additions To The Offense
The team signed TE Hayden Hurst from Baltimore after losing TE Austin Hooper. Then they signed RB Todd Gurley, who is coming off a bad year with the Rams. Those two alongside wideouts Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley should make an exciting offense.
My issue is as good as the offense looks, it still is inferior to the Saints and Buccaneers.
Carolina Panthers +2000
I’m not going to say much about Carolina. They are rebuilding from scratch. There is a new head coach, new quarterback, and an entirely new defense.
HC Matt Rhule used all his seven 2020 draft picks to improve the defense. I don’t remember anybody doing anything similar in recent years.
The Panthers Have No Shot At Winning This Division
Without a proper training camp and preseason games to get them ready, it looks like a recipe for disaster.
Rhule’s only star on the team is RB Christian McCaffrey. CMC has value for fantasy purposes and prop bets every Sunday, but that’s it.
NFC South Prediction In 2020
The NFC South will be one of the most entertaining divisions in the NFL in 2020. It’s not every day that you see two future Hall Fame quarterbacks going at it for the top of the division.
However, the Saints have the edge over the Bucs. They have won 13 games in the last two seasons, and they made the right moves to improve the team in weak positions.
But the most significant difference is familiarity. Drew Brees, Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and the rest of the Saints know each other well. The atypical offseason shouldn’t hurt New Orleans. Tampa Bay, however, doesn’t have that luxury.
The worst part is the Bucs will have to deal with the Saints right from the start in week one. They won’t have any time to get better. Bet the Saints -110 to win the NFC South.
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