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NFC South: Examining Over/Under Win Totals for the 2021 Season

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

All eyes will be on Tampa Bay as Tom Brady and the Buccaneers seek to defend their Super Bowl title while the rest of the NFC South is in a state of transition

The defending Super Bowl champion resides in the NFC South, as Tampa Bay figures to win the division once again. The Buccaneers didn't lose a single important contributor this offseason, so Tom Brady and that potent offense should roll once again. Behind them, New Orleans tries to find their identity without their longtime signal-caller Drew Brees, while the Falcons and Panthers try to improve on disappointing seasons. Young coaches are trying to bring Atlanta and Carolina to relevancy and have the pieces in place for better results. 

Related: NFL Scouts Talk Anonymously About NFC South Teams

2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West

Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.

Atlanta Falcons (Over 7.5 -135...Under 7.5 +115)

Division Champion Odds: +850
Offense: How many more seasons does Matt Ryan have in his illustrious career? Matty Ice had 26 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions but loses his longtime target Julio Jones, who was dealt to Tennessee. This means that Calvin Ridley finally gets the spotlight after a 90-catch campaign in 2020. Ridley is one of the best WRs in football, but there's not a ton of help behind him. Russell Gage moves up to No. 2, while Olamide Zaccheaus, Christian Blake, and Tajae Sharpe represent some of the depth behind him. Luckily for Ryan, Atlanta drafted Kyle Pitts in the first round, and he's got the measurables to be highly successful. Paired off with Hayden Hurst, the middle of the field will be open for Ryan. The run game could struggle with Todd Gurley II and Brian Hill departing, but they replaced the duo with Mike Davis from Carolina and Cordarrelle Patterson from Chicago.
Defense: Dean Pees takes over coordinating the defense which saw a ton of turnover through free agency. Among the players they lost were safeties Ricardo Allen, Damontae Kazee, and Keanu Neal, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds, and defensive ends Allen Bailey and Charles Harris. The new safety pair came from Las Vegas (Erik Harris) and Detroit (Duron Harmon). Meanwhile, the young secondary also features second-year man A.J. Terrell and Fabian Moreau, who comes over from Washington. The front seven lacks talent outside of Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones, who combined for 8.5 sacks in 2020.
Schedule Notes: Atlanta has just two true home games before the Week 6 bye; a Week 5 game in London counts as one of its eight home games in the 17-game slate. After that, the Falcons have six of their next nine on the road including trips to Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. There really isn't too friendly of a home stretch of games for the Falcons, which could make things difficult.

Prediction: I lean to the under at this price. I came up with seven or eight wins, but there's value with the +115 on the under.

Related: Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart

Carolina Panthers (Over 7.5 EVEN...Under 7.5 -120)

Division Champion Odds: +1200
Offense: Time to see what Sam Darnold can do with a competent coach and offensive coordinator. Joe Brady was so innovative in college and now has an upgrade under center after Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker were his signal-callers last year. Darnold reunites with Robby Anderson, who was his No. 1 receiver while in New York, and the duo had a solid connection there. DJ Moore can be a No. 1 receiver too, with David Moore (Seattle) and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. rounding out the team's top four WRs. Of course, I've gone long enough without mentioning Christian McCaffrey, whose health is of vital importance. The team's security blanket, Mike Davis, went to Atlanta, so now Chuba Hubbard and Reggie Bonnafon are the squad's backups. The offensive line has some question marks but also some potential a well.
Defense: Carolina has upgraded their secondary by drafting Jaycee Horn in the first round and signing A.J. Bouye. Both join Donte Jackson and Rashaan Melvin at CB alongside Juston Burris and Jeremy Chinn at safety. Chinn was very good as a rookie last year and will try to build off that. The linebacking corps got better with the addition of Haason Reddick from Arizona. He'll pair off nicely with Shaq Thompson, although they need to find a solid MLB. The front four figures to get some pressure with Brian Burns on the outside and DaQuan Jones up the middle. This is an intriguing group in Year 2 of Phil Snow's system.
Schedule Notes: There's potential for a decent start, as the Panthers have four of their first six games at home with one of the early road trips going to lowly Houston on a Thursday night. Their bye comes in Week 13 and they'll need it to with four division contests down the stretch including both against Tampa Bay.

Prediction: I think this is the division's surprise team, not Atlanta. I like the over at EVEN money, since I think they can win eight or nine games and have an outside shot at the playoffs. Of course, I'm also a believer that the new team will do wonders for Darnold.

Related: Carolina Panthers Depth Chart

New Orleans Saints (Over 9 +110...Under 9 -130)

Division Champion Odds: +440
Offense: Jameis Winston takes over under center with Taysom Hill also getting snaps to provide a change of pace. The team will be without Michael Thomas early on, as he will start the season on the PUP list. This means that Tre'Quan Smith, Marquez Callaway, Deonte Harris, and Ty Montgomery will have to pick up the slack. Callaway was impressive in the preseason. Alvin Kamara becomes even more important after a season where he had 187 carries and 83 receptions. Latavius Murray has been a solid backup as well. This offensive line is the biggest strength on this side of the ball.
Defense: Defensively, it all starts out with the front line, which is led by Cameron Jordan and Marcus Davenport. It'll be interesting to see how much Payton Turner, the team's first-round draft pick can get into the mix because he was a solid pass rusher in college. The linebackers are pretty strong with Demario Davis and Kwon Alexander, joined by a couple of rookies. The secondary is pretty good too, as Marshon Lattimore is one of the best corners in football. He'll be opposed by Ken Crawley or rookie Paulson Adebo. Luckily, the safety tandem of Malcolm Jenkins and Marcus Williams can erase some mistakes with their play.
Schedule Notes: The devastation of Hurricane Ida likely means the Saints will open the season against Green Bay somewhere (Dallas?) other than in New Orleans. That will mean that four of their first five games will be on the road before a Week 6 bye. The schedule eases up a little bit starting at Halloween when the Saints get six of 10 contests in the Superdome. One of those will be on Thanksgiving against Buffalo.

Prediction: Nine's a pretty solid number, so no play here.

Related: New Orleans Saints Depth Chart

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over 11.5 -150...Under 11.5 +125)

Division Champion Odds: -240
Offense: As mentioned earlier, for the most part, what you saw in the Super Bowl is what you will see in 2021. That means Tom Brady's cache of weapons is back starting with the WR room of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Antonio Brown along with Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, who made some clutch catches as the season went along. He's got his full allotment of TEs led by Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate. The only real change came in the form of former Bengal Giovani Bernard joining Ronald Jones II and Leonard Fournette as someone who can catch passes out of the backfield and be Brady's James White. We'll see if Tampa can produce a 1,000-yard rusher after Jones had only 978 last season.
Defense: Last year's defense was the only one to hold opposing running backs to under 1,000 yards total on the season. All key contributors are all back, led by Ndamukong Suh, Vita Vea, and William Gholston up front. The team's sack leaders were linebackers Jason Pierre-Paul and Devin White. Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett are the other LBs in the 3-4 alignment. Rookie Joe Tryon will get a chance to learn from some of the best and get some snaps as their first-round draft pick. If there was a weakness it's in the secondary, but Sean Murphy-Bunting came on at the end of the season, and Carlton Davis was top-notch all year long.
Schedule Notes: All eyes will be on Foxboro in Week 4 when Brady goes up against his former team. That's part of a stretch of four road games over six weeks, which also includes road trips to face the Rams and Saints. The second half of the slate is easier and should provide plenty of wins in case this division is somehow close.

Prediction: I came up with 11-12 wins for the Bucs, so there's no value on the over.

Related: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Depth Chart

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