The New Orleans Saints have dominated the NFC South for the last four seasons. But with the emergence of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the retirement of Drew Brees, it would not be shocking to see a new NFC South division champion emerge in the 2021 NFL season. As the defending Super Bowl champions, it is not hard to understand why the Buccaneers are favored to win the NFC South.
But that does not mean bettors should overlook the Saints, Panthers, or Falcons when putting money down via their favorite sports betting app:
|Odds On NFC South Division Winner: 2021/22 Season||PointsBet||BetMGM||FanDuel|
|New Orleans Saints||+350||+325||+330|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-200||-190||-185|
Can Tom Brady lead the Buccaneers to their first division title since 2007? Or will the Saints make it five in a row? The last time the Panthers and Falcons won the division, they made it to the Super Bowl.
Not having wide receiver Michael Thomas to start the season hurts. But the Saints are probably more concerned with choosing the right quarterback. Brees had a knack for making everyone around him better. You cannot say the same about Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston at this stage in their careers.
Neither quarterback played exceptionally well in the Saints’ first preseason game. But if the second preseason game is any indication, it looks like Jameis Winston will be QB1 for the Saints this season. Head coach Sean Payton has yet to decide, though.
However, no matter who he chooses, that player will not have to carry the offense alone. He will have one of the best offensive lines in the league (fourth according to PFF) helping him. Then there is the presence of one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league, Alvin Kamara.
On the defensive side of the ball, they lost a couple of key playmakers to free agency. But with the young talent they drafted and the guys remaining, the Saints will still have one of the better defenses in the league.
The Panthers have a lot of key pieces in place. But it remains to be seen if they have enough to be competitive within the NFC South this season.
If he can finally live up to his pre-draft hype, Sam Darnold could be the answer for them at quarterback. He showed flashes of brilliance during his time with the Jets. But the Jets rarely gave him much to work with.
That will not be a problem with the Panthers. Christian McCaffrey is one of the best running backs in the business. DJ Moore and Robby Anderson are a solid receiving duo.
Rookies Terrace Marshall and Chuba Hubbard have the potential to become playmakers as well. But the Panthers do have one significant issue—the offensive line is not good (ranked 30th by PFF). Both Donald and McCaffrey will need help from the o-line. However, it is hard to say whether they will get it.
A young defense was playing well by the end of the season under defensive coordinator Phil Snow last year. With more young talent coming in via the draft and free agency, the Panthers’ defense could develop into one of the better ones in the league.
But it has some work to do.
The Atlanta Falcons still have one of the best quarterbacks in the business in Matt Ryan. While Julio Jones is gone, the team still has a dangerous wide receiver duo in Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. If rookie tight end Kyle Pitts can live up to his pre-draft hype, the Falcons passing game could be incredible this season.
However, they will not get much help out of the offensive line (24th, according to PFF). There is hope that a couple of the younger players can continue to progress. But we will not know if they will until the regular season gets underway.
Matt Ryan and the passing game may not get much help from the running game, either. Mike Davis is listed as RB1. While he has done well as part of a committee, the Falcons do not have much talent behind him.
Defensively, the Falcons have not been good in recent years despite having a defensive-minded head coach (Dan Quinn). But with Arthur Smith in charge, the focus will likely be more on the offensive side of the ball.
But Dean Pees is a legend among defensive coordinators. If anyone can turn the talent-starved Atlanta defense into a functional unit, he can.
What needs to be said or can be said about the Buccaneers? They got off to a slow start last season. But once Tom Brady and the offense gelled, the team took off. With the help of a stellar defense, they were able to ride a late-season surge into the Super Bowl—which they won.
This season, they have the same starting units on both sides of the ball back. Will they be as dominant to start the season as they were in Super Bowl LV? Probably not. But they will be good enough to win games and will likely become dominant once again by the end of the regular season.
Factor in the depth the Buccaneers obtained via the draft and free agency, and the stage is set for much more than a division championship in Tampa Bay.
Sports Betting Recommendation
The safe and obvious choice is to go with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady should be even better in the offense this season. Tampa Bay’s defense will likely be one of the better ones in the NFL once again. As for the rest of the division, there is no value in talking the Carolina Panthers or Atlanta Falcons.
Both should be better this year than they were last season. But neither is going to improve enough to contend for the division title.
If you are feeling like rolling the dice a little, go ahead and go with the Saints. The defense should still be good this season. If Jameis Winston can avoid the turnover issues that have plagued him in the past, the offense may be somewhat explosive.
But as good as the Buccaneers are, do not bet big on the Saints.