Atlanta Falcons Are Odds Makers’ Pick to Win NFC South
The NFC South during the 2017 NFL regular season could be one of the NFL’s most interesting divisions. Each of the four teams could possibly win, but the defending AFC champion Atlanta Falcons are favored by odds makers to win again.
On several sportsbooks the Falcons are 8 to 5 to win, while the Carolina Panthers are 5 to 2, the New Orleans Saints 13 to 5 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7 to 2. That makes the four teams all close and all with a shot to win the division title.
The Falcons return with nearly the same team from their Super Bowl loss in February to New England. The one big change is the new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who replaced Kyle Shanahan who is now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Sarkisian was with Alabama last season and with USC as well as Washington in the Pac-12 as head coach. How Sarkisian and Ryan hit it off will be the deciding factor in the success of failure of the Falcons this season.
Carolina will need Cam Newton to return to good health this season after a season full of nagging injuries. If Newton can remain healthy, the Panthers could unseat the Falcons as NFC South champions.
Christian McCaffrey is expected to make a big impact offensively alongside fellow running back Jonathan Stewart which could give the Panthers one of the best offensive backfield duos in the game.
Last season, Tampa Bay was second in the NFC South at 9-7. The Bucs could move past Atlanta as their offense is expected to be strong with Jameis Winston under center, the signing of wide receiver DeSean Jackson and the drafting of OJ Howard at tight end and Chris Goodwin at wide receiver.
One team some believe is headed south is the New Orleans Saints. The Saints defense is one of the worst in the history of the league and was not improved during the offseason with trades, drafts and free agent signings.
Saints veteran quarterback Drew Brees lost his top receiver Brandin Cook in a trade with New England and although he is expected to have a strong season, he is 38 years old and a lack of protection from the line could hurt the veteran’s production.
With all the teams bunched up, Tampa at 7 to 2 might just have the best value on the AFC South futures board.