NFL

NFL Division Betting: The Buccaneers Will Unseat the Saints in the NFC South

The calendar has hit June, which means we're just two months away from preseason football. Yeah, I'm excited too.

With the draft that saw a record amount of money bet behind us, it's time to look forward to the upcoming season. Luckily, FanDuel Sportsbook has well north of 150 props already available for you to choose from.

With this series, I'm going to go division by division and come up with my favorite picks to take home the divisional crown -- as always, the goal is to find some value.

Here's a look at the team I'd bet on to win the NFC South.

NFC South Overview

The NFC South can be broken into two tiers -- the contenders and longshots. The contenders are the New Orleans Saints (-110) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+160) while the longshots are the Atlanta Falcons (+700) and Carolina Panthers (+1400).

New Orleans has won the division in three consecutive seasons, posting a record of 37-11 during that stretch. The Bucs, on the other hand, haven't been able to hang a division banner since 2007 and have been over .500 just once in their last nine campaigns.

Things could be very different in 2020, especially if the schedule has a say in the matter.

Team Overall Strength
of Schedule
Games vs. Teams
With O/U ≥ .500
Average Opponent
Estimated nERD
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 0.500 8 -0.24
New Orleans Saints 0.514 9 0.46
Carolina Panthers 0.521 9 0.47
Atlanta Falcons 0.533 11 0.91


As per Brandon Gdula's schedule rankings -- where he utilizes numberFire's nERD metric in conjunction with FanDuel Sportsbook's win totals -- the Bucs have the easiest schedule (by far) in the South and 10th-easiest in the league. Meanwhile, the Saints and Panthers have the seventh- and sixth-toughest, respectively, while the Falcons have the league's most brutal slate.

According to Gdula, Tampa is tied with three teams for the third-most games with a nERD advantage, at 14 -- only the Kansas City Chiefs (16) and Indianapolis Colts (15) have more.

Buccaneers

The Bucs had the league's splashiest (is that a word?) offseason...and it wasn't even close. They managed to keep three key defenders -- Shaq Barrett, Ndamukong Suh, and Jason Pierre-Paul -- for a defense that ranked fourth in Adjusted Defensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, including seventh in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and first in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play. Tampa was also able to land Tristan Wirfs -- a tackle many considered to be best in the 2020 class -- and running back Ke'Shawn Vaughn in the draft.

Oh, I almost forgot... the Buccaneers also signed Tom Brady and traded for Rob Gronkowski.

The team that committed a league-high 41 turnovers in 2019 gets a quarterback who's thrown double-digit interceptions just once in his last six seasons.

Saints

Already one of the more complete teams in the league, New Orleans made some interesting moves this offseason as well. On offense, the team added wideout Emmanuel Sanders, quarterback Jameis Winston, and interior lineman Cesar Ruiz. Defensively, they brought in Malcolm Jenkins, Margus Hunt, and Zack Baun. All solid additions.

The Saints did release Pro-Bowl guard Larry Warford, which stings a bit for an offensive line that ranked first in adjusted line yards and third in adjusted sack rate, according to FootballOutsiders.

Head coach Sean Payton and company also didn't get the luck of the draw with their schedule. They face just three teams who currently have over/unders lower than 7.5.

The Pick

I'm picking the Buccaneers to win the NFC South for the first time since 2007.

Tampa has enough talent on both sides of the ball to pull it off, and the schedule is on their side. You'd also be receiving good value, as the prop of them winning the division is currently priced at +160.

With New Orleans, you get a team with much less value (-110) and a pretty harsh slate. I'll take the Bucs all day.

Other Divisions

- AFC North
- AFC South
- AFC West
- AFC East
- NFC North
- NFC West