New Orleans Saints Poised To Take NFC South According To NFL Oddsmakers

August 4th, 2010 – by Alex

The NFC South is one of the less competitive divisions in the conference compared to the likes of the NFC East and North. In the South, the defending Super Bowl and NFC South champion New Orleans Saints really only face competition from the Atlanta Falcons for the No. 1 spot in the division. The Falcons finally finished back to back seasons with a winning record, a sure sign that things are improving in the Matt Ryan era. Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on individual missions to stay out of last place, but will likely make little to no noise in the 2010 NFL Season as both are undergoing extensive rebuilding projects.

The defending champion New Orleans Saints will kick off their title defense strong, and show one and all that they have the makings of a dynasty. The offense led by Drew Brees has always been this team’s calling card, and don’t look for that to change in 2010 following their 400 yard/35.7 point per game season in ‘09. The receiving core of Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem offers the perfect group of tall, fast and athletic receivers to complement Brees’ strong arm. Running backs Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush will continue to benefit off having a fantastic quarterback, and will likely put up improved totals in the coming season. Defensively, the Saints lost Scott Fujita but did pick up defensive ends Alex Brown and Jimmy Wilkerson, and CB Patrick Robinson. Last season this team led the league in defensive touchdowns and finished twice as many with the team who had second most, so while offensive is the motor that makes this team go, defense is what will get them an encore performance at the Super Bowl. The Saints are -175 to win the division as indicated by the latest NFL Betting Odds.

The Atlanta Falcons will come into 2010 looking to dethrone the Saints as the head of the NFC South class. Quarterback Matt Ryan and running back, Michael Turner, return to lead the offensive unit after an injury plagued 2009 campaign. With receiver Roddy White and tight end, Tony Gonzalez, Ryan has two great targets to get the ball to when he isn’t dumping it off to Turner. If everyone on this side of the ball can stay healthy, the Falcons may end up surprising a lot of people. Defensively, Atlanta heavily improved itself with the pick-up of cornerback, Dunta Robinsons, Sean Weatherspoon and William Moore. Still, despite the new names, Jamaal Anderson, Jonathan Babineaux and defensive end, John Abraham are the anchors of a defense that will have to shine if the Falcons have any shot at topping the Saints. The Falcons are +200 to win the NFC South.

The Carolina Panthers are embarking on their new post-Jake Delhomme era with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Matt Moore and their most recent draft pick, Jimmy Clausen, will ultimately battle it out for the starting job. Further complicating the offensive situation is the retirement of receiver Muhsin Muhammed. The team will hope that recent draft picks Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards will serve as admirable replacements for the long-time veteran, and finally give the second receiver complement that they have always wanted. The running back core should be solid, if not great next season, behind D’Angelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, each who rushed for over 1,000 yards last season. Defensively, this team will be mediocre at best next year, led by cornerbacks Richard Marshall and Chris Gamble, and linebackers, Jon Beason and Dan Connor. The Panthers are +600 to win the NFC South.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are kicking off the 2010 season in a race with the Panthers for who can stay out of last place in the division. The Bucs had a number of key losses over the summer including, but not limited to Byron Leftwich, Antonio Bryant, Will Allen and Jimmy Wilkerson. Offensively, there isn’t much to be happy about as the team is desperately hoping that quarterback, Josh Freeman can help them avoid having the third worst quarterback rating in the league (59.8). Trying to help Freeman progress will be tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. who had 77 receptions and 900 yards. As iffy as their quarterback situation is the team’s running back core. The Bucs will pray that Cadillac Williams can continue to stay healthy as he did in ’09, though the feat is unlikely. Defensively, this team will count on new tackles Gerald McCoy and Brian Price, along with safeties Sean Jones and Myron Lewis to make an immediate impact on that side of the ball. The Bucs are +1500 to win the NFC South.

Read more about the NFC South in the 2010 NFL Team Previews

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