The Atlanta Falcons made the NFC Championship game only to lose and will be back in the 2013-14 NFL season with the same, if not better, high powered offense that got them their first playoff win since the 2004-05 NFL season. They dominated the NFC South last season finishing 13-3 over Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, but went a paltry 3-3 in the division. NFL oddsmakers are once again favoring the Atlanta Falcons as +110 moneyline favorites to win the NFC South. Let’s preview the NFC South heading into the 2013-14 NFL season.
The Falcons (+110) got their first playoff game win in the Thomas Dimitroff-Mike Smith-Matt Ryan era. They got a thrilling win over the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round, but their season ended in heartbreak in the NFC title game. Their offense is going to be explosive with or without the future Hall of Famer TE Tony Gonzalez, which they hope is back. Both coordinators, Dirk Koetter on offense and Mike Nolan on defense, will return, and both did a spectacular job in 2012. There’s no reason why the Falcons can’t finish atop the NFC South and get back to the Super Bowl.
The Saints (+175) offense will hum yet again in 2013, with QB Drew Brees serving as the trigger man for the explosive unit. In 2012 the Saints faced unprecedented sanctions in the wake of the bounty scandal, including losing their head coach, Sean Payton, for the season. They had the worst defense in football and one of the worst statistical defenses in history. Payton’s first act after returning to the team was to fire defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Whoever is the next Saints DC must do better if the team is to return to the postseason. The Saints will be better in the 2013-14 season, and they’ll be in the mix for both the NFC South title and a playoff berth.
The Buccaneers (+550) stated that after the season that he needed to evaluate QB Josh Freeman, which indicates that the team has internally considered other options at the position. The Bucs play in a division with Atlanta and New Orleans, so a talented quarterback is a must. But, Freeman wasn’t all that horrible last season, but he turned the ball over too many times for Coach Greg Schiano’s liking. Freeman threw for a season best 4,065 yards with 27 touchdowns, but 17 interceptions.
The Panthers (+600) chances to contend in 2013 don’t look great. Cam Newton is a terrific quarterback, but there’s no way that he can do it all by himself. This is a team in significant need of a major talent infusion, and the team’s salary-cap situation is an absolute mess. The Panthers made the right call when they brought back head Coach Ron Rivera for next year, and the hiring of Dave Gettleman as their new general manager was a good one. But, to contend in the NFC South you need weapons on offense and a solid defense, which they aren’t likely to have.
Odds to win the 2014 NFC South Division:
Atlanta Falcons +110
New Orleans Saints +175
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +550
Carolina Panthers +600
The Bottom Line: I believe the Saints will rebound and be better than ever. We recommend you signup up with Bovada to receive a 10% signup bonus heading into the 2013-14 NFL season.