The NFC South was a mess in 2014 and it could end up being that way again. The Panthers won the division last season with only seven wins. The NFC South will likely be a race between the Panthers, Falcons and Saints again this year.
In my opinion – the Falcons and Saints will fight for the division, while the Panthers will regress the most.
Odds to Win the NFC South in 2015
New Orleans Saints +205
Atlanta Falcons +220
Carolina Panthers +245
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +775
The bookmakers expect the NFC South to be very close in 2015, as the Saints, Falcons and Panthers are all priced closely in the market. Tampa Bay will be in the basement of the division again, as they haven’t done much to improve.
2015 Carolina Panthers Team Preview
Last Season’s Record: 7-8-1 (1st in NFC South)
Key Additions: Michael Oher, Teddy Williams, Ted Ginn, Kurt Coleman & Charles Tillman
Key Losses: Greg Hardy, DeAngelo Williams, Byron Bell & Thomas DeCoud
Regular Season Win Total: Over 8.5 Wins (+115) vs. Under 8.5 Wins (-135)
Losing Hardy hurts, but at the same time, Hardy caused a lot of headaches for the Panthers. I thought the Panthers did well in free agency to add some veterans to the roster, but the Panthers draft has the potential to be full of busts.
Williams is now gone as well and he was the workhorse in the run game for the most part in recent years. Cam Newton will have more pressure on him to perform in the pass game this season and the Panthers o-line still has question marks.
The Panthers will have hard time winning 9 games, so I’m definitely betting under 8.5 wins this season.
2015 New Orleans Saints Team Preview
Last Season’s Record: 7-9 (2nd in NFC South)
Key Additions: Dannell Ellerbe, Max Unger, C.J. Spiller, Brandon Browner & Anthony Spencer
Key Losses: Jimmy Graham, Ben Grubbs, Kenny Stills, Curtis Lofton, Tyrunn Walker & Pierre Thomas
Regular Season Win Total: Over 8.5 Wins (-125) vs. Under 8.5 Wins (+105)
If Spiller can stay healthy – the Saints will have an improved run game. Spiller is good in open space as well, so Brees will be able to utilize him in the pass game. Losing Graham hurts, but the Saints had no choice due to cap space issues.
Browner and Spencer are nice additions to the defense, which needed some improvement after a rough 2014. This team has improved from last year, although replacing Graham’s and Still’s production in the pass game will be a priority.
The Saints aren’t Super Bowl contenders, but they’ll contend in the NFC South and win over 8.5 games.
Key Losses: Steven Jackson, Harry Douglas, Corey Peters, Sean Weatherspoon & Robert McClain
Regular Season Win Total: Over 8.5 Wins (-105) vs. Under 8.5 Wins (-115)
The Falcons fixed one problem, which was the pass rush. Signing Reid and drafting Vic Beasley will help the Falcons in the pass rush department, but they still haven’t done enough to address the poor o-line from last season.
Matt Ryan and the Falcons WR unit are still among the best in the league, despite losing Douglas. Drafting Tevin Coleman to replace Jackson is an upgrade too. The Falcons should be considerably better this season than they were last season.
I’m betting on the Falcons to win over 8.5 games during the regular season and to win the NFC South.
2015 Tampa Bay Buccaneers Team Preview
Last Season’s Record: 2-14 (4th in NFC South)
Key Additions: Henry Melton, Sterling Moore, Bruce Carter, Chris Conte, D.J. Swearinger & George Johnson
Key Losses: Michael Johnson, Mason Foster, Dashon Goldson, Anthony Collins & Josh McCown
Regular Season Win Total: Over 6 Wins (+110) vs. Under 6 Wins (-130)
Jamies Winston was a great QB to draft, but he won’t instantly make the Buccaneers a contender in the division. I would put money on TB winning more than 2 games, but the regular season win total is way up at 6 games.
TB got rid of some expensive players this off-season, which was a great move, as they under performed last year. That also means the Buccaneers are going to be using young talent to fill in some important positions, which isn’t ideal.
The offense will be way better, but I’m still betting on under 6 wins for the Buccaneers.