2018 NFC South Futures Odds
The NFC South has been one of the most competitive division races in the NFL for the past several seasons. The futures odds at BetOnline Sportsbook to win this division in 2018 point to another exciting race this time around as well.
The New Orleans Saints come into the 2018 regular season as defending champs in the NFC South just three years removed from Carolina’s run to the Super Bowl in 2015 and Atlanta’s appearance in Super 50 in 2016. All three teams are busy preparing to lay claim to the division title in this year's campaign.
New Orleans Saints +150
The Saints are probably getting the benefit of the doubt as slight favorites coming off last season’s 11-5 record. They won a tie-breaker against Carolina for the division title before bowing out of the playoffs in a bizarre last-second loss to Minnesota in the Divisional Round. Drew Brees turned in another Pro Bowl performance at quarterback, but it was the emergence of a potent ground game and solid defensive play that helped to end New Orleans’ three-year playoff drought.
The pieces remain in place for another division title run this season, but the level of competition the Saints will have to get past drains some value from their odds. Starting the season without running back Mark Ingram for the first four games due to a league suspension does not help the cause.
Atlanta Falcons +175
Atlanta finished third last season at 10-6 to earn to the other wild card spot in the playoffs after Carolina. The Falcons stunned the Los Angeles Rams on the road in the opening round before falling to Philadelphia on the road the following week. Heading into this year’s training camp, the biggest story with this team is All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones’ decision to hold out due to a contract dispute. This could be a short-term distraction or at worst it could drag into the regular season.
This team is still loaded with talent on offense led by veteran quarterback Matt Ryan. Adding wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round of the draft is one more weapon on a unit that was ranked eighth in the NFL in passing yards. I would give the Falcons the edge to win the division in 2018 with a vastly improved defense that was ranked eighth in points allowed (19.7) last year.
Carolina Panthers +275
In 2017, the Panthers squeezed as much as they could from an offense that was ranked 19th in the NFL total yards gained and 28th in passing yards. Cam Newton was league MVP in the 2015 season, but he has not shown the ability to perform at that high of a level on a consistent basis. Carolina still relies heavily on a defense that was seventh in yards allowed and 11th in points allowed year, but overall it could be primed for a step backward in 2018.
On the plus side, the addition of wide receiver DJ Moore in the first round of the draft should help the Panthers' passing game. Carolina’s defense was 18th in the league against the pass last year, so cornerback Donte Johnson and safety Rashaan Gaulden will add some depth to the defensive secondary as the next two picks in the draft.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1200
Tampa Bay is a team that just loves to shoot itself in the foot anytime it tries to take a step forward in the NFC South. The Buccaneers went 9-7 in 2016 to finish second in the division before cascading down to a 5-11 record last year. Dirk Koetter enters his third season as head coach, and he could be a good candidate for betting the prop odds for the first head coach fired this season if his team gets a slow start out of the gate.
The fact that his starting quarterback Jameis Winston is facing a three-game league suspension does not help the situation. The Bucs’ offense fell to 18th in scoring last season, but it was still ranked fourth when it came to moving the ball through the air. Another big concern is a defense that was ranked last in the NFL in yards allowed while giving up 23.9 points per game.