BetOnline odds Updated: September 2018
Odds to win the NFC west division: +200
The Atlanta Falcons put together one of the best seasons in recent memory only to watch it all fade away with an overtime loss to New England in Super Bowl 51. The Falcons were easily the NFL’s best offense and QB Matt Ryan returns as the reigning NFL MVP. Ryan and the Falcons will be without offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan who left to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. It shouldn’t make much difference. The offensive line returns intact and Ryan’s top target Julio Jones is one of the toughest receivers in the league to defend. Atlanta also returns the backfield tandem of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman.
The Falcons defense is solid as well returning the NFL’s sack leader Vic Beasley. Atlanta also drafted well picking up another pass rusher in Takk McKinley. The team also signed DT Dontari Poe. There is no reason to think that the Falcons cannot repeat as division champs. The rest of the division might disagree though.
Odds to win the NFC west division: +275
Carolina went from the 2015 Super Bowl to a 6-10 mark last year. Injuries helped fuel the disastrous turn last season as the Panthers started the season 1-5 and could never dig out of that hole. Carolina should be much better in 2017. They will certainly be healthier. Quarterback Cam Newton is back after offseason surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. The Panthers added some weapons for Newton by drafting former Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and former Ohio State hybrid RB/WR Curtis Samuel.
Luke Kuechly returns after missing time last year with concussion symptoms. He is one of the NFL’s best inside linebackers and leads a Carolina defense that can be among the league’s best. The Panthers will have the advantage of a 6-10 schedule. They do face the Patriots on the road but get Green Bay at home.
Odds to win the NFC west division: +150
Adrian Peterson is now in New Orleans adding another piece to an already outstanding offense. It’s on defense where the Saints need to improve. The franchise used its first three picks in this year’s draft to address a defense that finished dead last in passing defense (273.8 yards per game). New Orleans will probably still have to be content winning 38-35 shootouts as it has for the past few years. Three straight 7-9 seasons leave head coach Sean Payton on a warm seat, not a full-fledge hot seat. The schedule is in the Saints’ favor. This could be the year the Saints get back to the postseason.
Odds to win the NFC west division: +800
The most improved team in the division is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs did not finish last in the division for the first time in five seasons. They enjoyed their first winning season in six years and just missed making the postseason. Quarterback Jameis Winston continues to improve and he now has WR DeSean Jackson as well as rookie TE O.J. Howard to work with. The Bucs will have a little tougher schedule in 2017 but do get New England and the New York Giants at home. This could be the year Tampa Bay finally breaks its nine-year postseason absence streak.
The Falcons will be tough to beat, but if the Panthers stay healthy they can get back to their 2015 form, a season where they went 15-1. They might not do that well, but they have the key pieces to win the division again.
NFC South Prediction: Carolina
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2018 NFL Football Season