The reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs reside in the AFC West Division. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers wore the crown in the NFC West.
The two teams who were vanquished in the respective conference championship games were from the AFC South (Tennessee Titans) and NFC North (Green Bay Packers). The Baltimore Ravens, who posted the NFL’s best regular-season record in 2019, play out of the AFC North.
No matter. Football fans looking to decipher the NFL’s best division need not waste a moment of study on these other groups. That’s because the best overall division in the league, the deepest group of teams from top to bottom in the NFL entering the 2020 season are housed in the NFC South.
It’s a division already enriched by a solid resume of accomplishment. Both the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers own Super Bowl championships. Though they’ve never won the big game, each of the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers have made multiple trips to the Super Bowl.
It’s easy to argue that this season, three of the four NFC South teams will have a future Hall of Famer under center—Drew Brees (New Orleans), Tom Brady (Tampa Bay) and Matt Ryan (Atlanta).
Let’s take a look at each of the four NFC South clubs and what they have to offer entering this season, along with the odds being offered by BetOnline sportsbook of each team winning the division title this season.
New Orleans Saints (-105)
Two Divisional Round postseason losses to the Minnesota Vikings sandwiched around a defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams in the 2018-19 NFC Championship game is how the end has come for the Saints in each of the past three seasons.
Yet, there’s still a strong constituency of football pundits who think the Saints are a Super Bowl-winning team waiting to happen. Quarterback Brees and head coach Sean Payton are still on board from the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV triumph. Wideout Michael Thomas caught an NFL record 149 passes last season. If Alvin Kamara rebounds from an injury-hampered 2019 campaign, the running game is set.
Defensively, New Orleans shored up its weakness in the secondary over the past year, adding cornerback Janoris Jenkins and safety Malcolm Jenkins.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+125)
Arguably the biggest free-agent move in NFL history was when Brady left after two decades in New England to sign with the Bucs. He brings with him six Super Bowl rings and 11 straight divisonal titles, oh and also his bruh Rob Gronkwoski, the former All Pro tight end who was lured out of retirement.
Brady has a pair of 1,000-yard receiving targets at his disposal in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. If the line can block for him and Tampa Bay locates a run game, the Buccaneers will be a dangerous bunch.
Atlanta Falcons (+1000)
Which version is the real Falcons? The team started 1-7 and put coach Dan Quinn’s head on the chopping block—or the squad that finished 6-2 over the second half of the season?
Matt Ryan is still running the offense and Matty Ice is as cool as they come. This year, he’ll be able to hand the ball to All-Pro running back Todd Gurley, as well as continue to toss it downfield to Julio Jones. In fact, all 11 of Atlanta’s offensive starters are first-round draft picks.
On the other side of the ball, the Falcons bolstered their pass rush by adding Dante Fowler.
Carolina Panthers (+1800)
The Panthers saw an era end with the departures of former NFL MVP QB Cam Newton, head coach Ron Rivera and linebacker Luke Kuechly. Carolina also added a free agent QB in Teddy Bridgewater. He went 5-0 for the Saints last season filling in for an injured Brees. He previously took the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs.
Last season, Christian McCaffrey joined Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk as the only players in NFL history with 1,000 yards in rushing and receiving in the same year. He caught 116 passes, an NFL record for a running back.
Tune in to the season opener on Sept. 10, when Super Bowl champs the Chiefs host the Texans.