NFC South Predictions 2024: Division Winner, Odds, Best Bet

Dec 31, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium.
Image Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC South was competitive last year, coming down to the wire. That’s the friendly way of discussing a division without a team winning double-digit games. Of course, having a team win the division with a winning record was a step up in 2023 from 2022.

The Buccaneers have won the division in three straight years. They’ve hardly been a powerhouse in the regular season in the past two years but managed to win in the Wild Card Round and push the Lions in the Divisional Round last season. 

Will the Bucs make it an NFC South title four-peat? There’s a different betting favorite for winning the division title. Should gamers back the chalk? Let’s look at the four teams and determine the best course of betting action.

NFC South Division Odds

  • Falcons – (-115)
  • Bucs – (+290)
  • Saints – (+350)
  • Panthers (+1100)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook as of May 24.

Atlanta Falcons Odds to Win NFC South: (-115)

The Arthur Smith era of the Falcons is over, concluding with a 7-10 record. Atlanta hired Raheem Morris as the club’s new head coach, and they completely overhauled the quarterback room.

First, they signed Kirk Cousins to a massive contract in free agency. Second, they used the eighth pick in the NFL Draft to select Michael Penix. Lousy quarterback play was Atlanta’s most significant issue last year, and they were unwilling to go down that road again.

Still, Cousins is 35 years old and returning from a torn Achilles in late October. Will he hit the ground running in a new offense with unfamiliar teammates? That remains to be seen. Atlanta also wasn’t bulletproof beyond quarterback last year.

Per FTN Fantasy, the Falcons were 28th in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), 24th in offense DVOA, 24th in defense DVOA, and 27th in special teams DVOA. Atlanta also had a negative 52-point point differential. Cousins is likely the best quarterback in the division if he returns to pre-injury form, and there are reasons for optimism about the Falcons. Nonetheless, the odds are too short for a flawed team, even in a weak division.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Odds to Win NFC South: (+290)

While the Bucs have won two division titles since Bruce Arians retired, they’ve had precisely a .500 record, going 8-9 in 2022 and 9-8 in 2023. Todd Bowles did guide them to a win against the Eagles in the Wild Card Round before putting forth a game effort against the Lions in a loss in the Divisional Round.

Many faces critical to winning the division are back in the fold after the Bucs re-signed Baker Mayfield and Mike Evans. Tampa Bay was a genuine slightly better-than-.500 club, with a positive 23-point point differential.

However, they were only 18th in overall DVOA. Yet, according to Sumer Sports, the Buccaneers were 12th in Expected Points Added per play (0.01 EPA/Play). Mayfield had a stellar season. Unfortunately, while many integral pieces are back, offensive coordinator Dave Canales left for a head coaching gig within the division. The Bucs can’t afford Mayfield reverting to pre-2023 form in new offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s offense. 

New Orleans Saints Odds to Win NFC South: (+350)

The Saints had an identical 9-8 record as the division-winning Bucs and split the season series with them but lost the division title on a tiebreaker. By many measures, the Saints were the best team in the NFC South.

First, New Orleans’s positive 75-point point differential was the best in the division by 52 points. Second, they were 15th in total DVOA. Third, according to Sumer Sports, they were tied for 15th in offensive success rate (42.4%), the best mark in the division. New Orleans also had Pro Football Focus’s (PFF’s) highest overall grade in the division, ranking 14th. 

The Saints’ defense was average to above average by every measure. They were 15th in defense DVOA, 11th in PFF’s defense grade, eighth in scoring defense (19.2 points per game), and fifth in EPA/play. Joe Woods is still the club’s defensive coordinator, and the defense from last year is largely intact.

The Saints were ninth in scoring offense (23.6 points per game). Nevertheless, their other offensive ranks weren’t as impressive. They were 16th in PFF’s offense grade, 17th in offense DVOA, and 14th in EPA/Play (-0.01). The Saints hope to generate a spark on that side of the football with a new offensive coordinator, replacing Pete Carmichael with Klint Kubiak, the son of Gary Kubiak. 

The younger Kubiak was most recently the passing game coordinator for the 49ers last season. He was previously an offensive coordinator for the Vikings in 2021, when they finished 13th in yards per play (5.7), 14th in scoring offense (25.0 points per game), and tied for the fewest turnovers (13). 

Carolina Panthers Odds to Win NFC South: (+1100)

The Panthers traded up to the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to select Bryce Young. Unfortunately, he had a nightmare first season while the second pick in the draft, C.J. Stroud, had a historic rookie season. 

Frank Reich didn’t even last the entire season as the head coach, getting fired in Week 12 after a 1-11 start. The Panthers had the worst record (2-15) and the second-worst point differential (-180) in the NFL. Sadly, they didn’t reap the benefit of having the first overall pick in the NFL Draft because that was part of the package to acquire Young last season. 

The Panthers have a significant climb to contend for the division title, and trading edge rusher Brian Burns to the Giants for a second-round pick removed a star from an already lousy defense. 

Still, the Panthers have wisely invested resources into the offensive line and skill positions to give Young a chance to succeed. Moreover, they hired Canales from the Bucs as their new head coach. Canales was Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator last season, and he’s been the quarterback whisperer, bringing the best out of Geno Smith in 2022 as Seattle’s quarterbacks coach and Mayfield in 2023. 

The Panthers are justifiably priced at long odds to win the NFC South. Yet, gamblers don’t have to look back any further than 2022 at Carolina’s fellow 1995 expansion franchise for an example of a similar turnaround. The Jaguars were 3-14 in 2021 under Urban Meyer’s incompetent leadership, and No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence had a dreadful rookie campaign. Carolina is unlikely to accomplish the same turnaround, but it’s not impossible, and the NFC South is ripe for the taking.

NFC South Predictions & Best Bet

The Saints are a bargain as the third-ranked team in betting odds to win the NFC South. Their defense is the backbone of the team, and the offense could take a step forward under Kubiak’s guidance. 

Again, the Falcons have too short of betting odds for a team with plenty of questions and a 35-year-old quarterback returning from a torn Achilles. If the Falcons get off to a slow start, Mayfield regresses to pre-Canales form, and the Panthers don’t make a massive leap, the Saints can win the NFC South by duplicating last year’s roughly league-average performance. 

Best Bet: New Orleans Saints to Win NFC South | +330 at DraftKings Sportsbook

More Division Odds & Predictions

Check out Josh’s predictions from across the other NFL divisions: