2017 NFC South Off Season Report Cards, Odds: Falcons, Panthers, Bucs, Saints

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ESPN.com issued its off season report cards on the NFC South for 2017 while Gambling911.com has its picks based on the best futures odds.

Atlanta Falcons – Still among the early favorites to win Super Bowl 51 after making only their second appearance in franchise history earlier this year, the Falcons come in at a decent price tag at 12-1

The good news for Atlanta is that they continued adding pieces to their front seven, according to Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com.

While Atlanta's speedy young defense jelled in time for its postseason run, it's also worth noting that the Falcons weren't a very good defense for most of the season. They finished the season 27th in DVOA and 29th against the run, a problem teams weren't able to exploit because the dominant Atlanta offense kept getting out to leads.

It also helps that the Falcons used their first-round pick on UCLA edge rusher Takkarist McKinley, who should be part of a deep rotation at defensive end.

Bartwell gives Atlanta one of the best grades for off season moves at B+. 

OVER 9.5 regular seasons at -135, winning the division at 2-1 and even the Super Bowl at 12-1 are all in play here.

The one catch here, as we review the remaining NFC South teams below, is that each of them look relatively solid coming into 2017.

Carolina Panthers – Oddsmakers have this Panthers squad performing much better than last year’s reversion backwards as they are expected to win at least 10 regular season games at a high price of -150.

They have built a deep pass rush during the off season while locking up key players the likes of Julius Peppers and Kawaan Short.

Wes Horton and third-round pick Daeshon Hall will help this team win games as well.

On paper this looks like one of the toughest divisions, if not THE toughest.  As such, that 10 number is just a little too high for our liking.

Tampa Bay Bucs – Gambling911.com has already noted how Tampa Bay will come into this season looking impressive.

Winning OVER 8 regular season games at -130 is a decent offering, though we’d prefer a reduced price.

Mike Sando, NFL Senior Writer for ESPN.com writes:

The moves Tampa Bay made on offense, in particular, make the Buccaneers a compelling choice as the most improved team this offseason. I'm not sure how much they'll improve upon their 9-7 record from last season -- nine wins was on the high side of most projections -- but the offense is in position to take a significant step forward.

Those moves include signing DeSean Jackson during free agency and then drafting tight end O.J. Howard in the first round.  Instant weapons for QB Jameis Winston.

Barnwell adds that Tampa Bay has some wiggle room with a much deeper talent base should injuries occur.

The OVER 8 looks great here

New Orleans Saints – Obviously signing Adrian Peterson should help.  They also devoted draft picks toward fixing their pass defense.  Oddsmakers have them priced at -115 on the OVER/UNDER 8. 

Of the four teams in this division, New Orleans looks like the one that will come out on the bottom, though probably still finishing at .500.

- Don Shapiro, Gambling911.com

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