Betting | Aug 25, 2023

2023 NFC South Odds, Analysis & Predictions

By Harry Bazley

Bryce Young

The NFC South will likely be the weakest division in the NFL this year. Tampa Bay took the title last season with just an 8-9 record and with Tom Brady finally calling it quits, the Bucs' short reign has likely come to an end, leaving the division wide open.

There are plenty of questions surrounding these teams, from roster depth to quarterback concerns. It's certainly tough to predict who's going to steal the crown now that Brady is out of the picture, but today we're going to break down the odds, analyse each team and do our best to call the winner of the NFC South.

NFC South Best Odds

Team Best Odds Sportsbook
New Orleans Saints +130 FanDuel
Atlanta Falcons +240 DraftKings
Carolina Panthers +400 BetRivers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +800 bet365

New Orleans Saints (+130)

New Orleans have the best odds to win the division at +130 in the FanDuel sportsbook.

By far the biggest factor setting the Saints apart from the pack is Derek Carr, who will be a significant improvement on Andy Dalton and should now be the best quarterback in the NFC South. Carr has played his entire career in Vegas with not much to show for his time there. He's now starting fresh in New Orleans and has a great chance to reach the playoffs. Expect him to attack that opportunity with full force.

Wide receivers Chris Olave and Michael Thomas are joined by new addition Bryan Edwards to create a solid pass-catching core. While Jamaal Williams will lead the ground game from Week 1 to 3, before Alvin Kamara returns from his suspension to join Williams and form a one-two punch from the backfield.

On the offensive line, the Saints were ranked by PFF as the 24th best line and worst in the division. Although this doesn't bode well for 2023, the upside is that most of the same core will be returning. The biggest reason for last year's struggle was all five starters failing to stay healthy. Trevor Penning missed 11 games, Erik McCoy missed 4, Cesar Ruiz missed 3, Andrus Peat was out for 6, and Ryan Ramczyk missed for a bunch of practice sessions. If there's one thing I know, it's that that's a recipe for disaster in today's NFL. If they can stay on the field and out of the medical tent, Carr should be safe in the backfield.

The only major concern is the loss of key defensive players in David Onyematta, Marcus Davenport and Shy Tuttle. The Saints may have drafted Bryan Brecee to reinforce the defensive line, but we'll likely see a weaker performance than we're used to on this side of the ball.

So, minus a few losses on defense, Dennis Allen certainly has the tools to make something of this season and with little to no competition from the rest of the pack and the second easiest schedule in the league, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Saints in the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons (+240)

The Falcons are second favorites to win the NFC South at +240 in the DraftKings sportsbook.

Despite there being very little buzz surrounding Atlanta's 2023 campaign, they sure did make a splash on draft night. Arthur Smith welcomed the top running back in the class onto his roster with the 8th overall pick. Bijan Robinson will now lead the ground game ahead of Tyler Allgeier, who averaged nearly 5 yards per carry as a rookie last year.

So they should have a solid run game, but Desmond Ridder will be quarterbacking the offense in just his second year as a pro. He'll have some great options in the passing game - with the likes of Drake London and Kyle Pitts - but the Falcon's scoring success falls entirely on how he puts those weapons to use. If Smith can get the best out of Ridder, he'll have a top tier offense on his hands.

Atlanta's defense should shine again this season, especially after trading up to bring in star safety Jessie Bates III along with several weapons for the trenches, including Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree.

There are no big concerns on the defensive side of the ball, so everything rides on Ridder's ability to step up his production. In Ridder’s four starts last season, he averaged just 180 passing yards and threw for two touchdowns while adding very little in the running game. If he can't live up to the talent that surrounds him, Smith could be forced into a heavy run-scheme. That may not be enough to compete deep into the playoffs, but they could certainly top the NFC South, especially with another easy schedule on the cards.

Carolina Panthers (+400)

The Panthers are at odds of +400 to win the NFC South in the BetRivers sportsbook.

The Frank Reich and Bryce Young era begins in Carolina. They may have long odds, but in a wide open division, it's not impossible to think these two can't finish their first year together with a division title.

After starting 2-7 last season, the Panthers went 5-3 in their final 8 games following major improvements from the o-line, a strong ground game and a solid defense to back it up. If Reich can maintain that standard while Young has a OROY kind of performance, they could steal this division.

Unfortunately, that's asking a lot of Young, as he'll be working with one of the weaker skill position groups in the league. Trading D..J. Moore could hurt their offense more than they know, and whether free agent signing Miles Sanders will be an improvement on D’Onta Foreman is still uncertain.

So, they may have had the top pick in the draft and matched him up with a great head coach, but Young is likely to struggle with a lack of talent surrounding him. Give it a few years and we could see Carolina return to the top of the table. Or they may just prove me wrong and Young could carry this team through to the postseason all by himself.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+800)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the underdogs to win the NFC South with odds of +800 in the bet365 sportsbook.

There's one key reason for the Bucs falling so far in the sportsbooks and it's name is Baker Mayfield. Following Tom Brady's retirement, Tampa Bay were in desperate need of a new playmaking quarterback, and while Mayfield has bounced around the league for some time now, he has shown moments of greatness. Perhaps the biggest highlight of his career came last year, with an insane 98-yard game winning drive in under 2 minutes after only spending 2 days with the Rams. Despite his potential, he simply doesn't have the consistency to maintain the high standard set by Brady.

That being said, Mayfield will be surrounded by an experienced supporting cast, featuring the likes of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and an o-line fronted by Ryan Jensen. But, whether he can make the most of such a talented roster is still in question.

Another downside in Tampa is the lack of a star running back. Rachaad White will lead the ground game and definitely has a talented line clearing the path for him, but he's not a game-breaking playmaker.

Unfortunately, the bad outweighs the good in Tampa Bay. Their saving grace could be the defense holding opponents to so few points that the offensive struggles aren't exposed. But despite the talent in their secondary, I can't see this working out for the Bucs. If this season goes the way I expect it to, Todd Bowles will be seeing some of his best players depart next year.

Prediction: New Orleans Saints

The Bucs defense won't be able to outweigh the drawbacks of Baker Mayfield. Desmond Ridder is a big enough question mark in Atlanta, that the odds of +240 simply don't outweigh the risk. So, it comes down to the Panthers and Saints at the end of the day.

Bryce Young might be fairly high in the odds for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but I don't see that happening with so few weapons at his disposal. Sadly, I think the Panthers need a miracle to get that kind of performance from their rookie QB.

And that leaves us with Derek Carr settling to the Saints and producing a solid passing game with Chris Olave and Michael Thomas. Jamaal Williams should lead a good rushing offense before the return of Alvin Kamara. The defense is the only concern, with a few key losses at both levels, but they should rank mid-tier against both the run and the pass. Putting it all together, Dennis Allen should put together a winning season with an easy schedule, and even if they log a 9 win total, that will be enough to top the division.

Will Frank Reich and Bryce Young be a match made in heaven? Or will Derrick Carr take the Falcons to new heights?

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(Header Image Credit: Jim Dedmon - USA TODAY Sports)

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