2015 NFL Football Betting – NFC South Preview
The NFL season is one month away. The NFC South had a collectively terrible year in 2014, but will things change for the better this season? Here are some things to consider for the division as a whole, not just the order of finish for each team:
NFC South Preview
This is a division which was crushed last season, largely because all four teams were flawed, but also because these teams faced difficult schedules, including interconference games against the NFC. The interconference matchups pit one division against another, and last season, the NFC South played the AFC North, the one division out of eight in the NFL that put three teams in the playoffs – the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens, and the Cincinnati Bengals. The fourth team wasn’t great, but the Cleveland Browns were still in the playoff hunt entering the month of December. This certainly helped the NFC South finish with four losing teams. The champion Carolina Panthers ended up 7-8-1, and after splitting two playoff games, they concluded their full season at 8-9-1. Without handicapping how the teams are going to finish relative to each other, the general forecast for the 2015 NFC South should be better than last season. The division’s AFC opponents will come from the AFC South, which is one of the two weaker divisions in the AFC, probably the weakest overall (worse than the AFC East). Each NFC South team should have at least one more win than in 2014, if not two.
Now, how will each team deal with the coming season?
The favorite should probably be Carolina, although this is not an easy division to predict because of its volatility and lack of quality. The New Orleans Saints have Drew Brees, but they have a thin and suspect defense, and the kinds of questions on their roster that run deeper than anything that can be fixed with only one or maybe two players. The secondary is a huge point of concern – it was thin at the start of the 2014 season – and so when the offense struggled, the Saints didn’t have other resources to combat their emergent problems. Carolina has a dual-threat quarterback in Cam Newton who, unlike Brees, can run for yards when plays break down and become a running threat in short-yardage situations. Carolina’s defense is clearly better and more physical than what New Orleans brings to the table. The Panthers should be better than the Saints, even though New Orleans has more upside if everything clicks with Brees and the offense. New Orleans, at its best, is better than Carolina, but the Panthers are more likely to play reasonably well than the erratic Saints.
Atlanta is the third-best team in the division. The Falcons continue to wonder if their offensive line can protect Matt Ryan. Unless the Falcons can pass protect better, this team won’t move forward and return to where it was a few years ago. Atlanta also has to get a better pass rush, but the offensive line is the first point of concern.
The Tampa Bay Bucs are starting over, with Jameis Winston at quarterback. This will be a learning experience for a top draft pick, a time to absorb lessons and build a career. The Bucs should not be taken seriously this season. We’ll see where they are a year from now.