2016 NFL Expert Predictions For The NFC South
With three straight NFC South titles to their name, including a franchise-record 15-1 campaign in 2015, the Carolina Panthers are seeking to record their fourth successive divisional title in 2016 and the Oddsmakers have them as the biggest divisional favorites in the 2016 NFL odds and lines. With nearly all the remaining members of the AFC South expected to somewhat improve in 2016, can anyone unseat the Panthers from the divisional throne, or will it be business as usual for Carolina? Below we take a stab at 2016 NFC South Futures with the following bold NFL picks.
In Depth Analysis On The 2016 NFL Expert Predictions For The NFC South
Favorite NFC South Pick 2016: Carolina Panthers
Though the Carolina Panthers have a tougher Strength of Schedule (SOS) than they did in 2015, their SOS is still the easiest of all NFC South teams, which should serve them rather well in the bid to claim their 7th All-time divisional title and 5th since 2008. Roster-wise, the only ‘big loss’ in the offseason was cornerback Josh Norman, but with two 2016 draft picks used on CBs, that position should we well catered for. Offensively, reigning NFL MVP Cam Newton appears to have the game figured out and should continue to stay hot now that star receiver Kelvin Benjamin, one of Newton’s top targets over the last couple of seasons, is back in the fold healthy after missing the entire 2015 season due to an ACL tear. Getting to repeat as champions should therefore not be that big a deal for the 2016 Panthers unit.
Smart NFC South Pick 2016: New Orleans Saints
Even with a poor defense and less-than-stellar group of young receivers to serve him in 2015, Drew Brees still had a big season, leading New Orleans to a first-place NFL finish in passing yards per game (310.6) while helping the Saints to a decent number of wins. To put Brees in a position to do even better in 2016, the Saints added a good number of players in the defense (including rookie DTs Sheldon Rankings and David Onyemata plus a host of big agent free agent signings) while the offense also upgraded in terms of offensive targets like veteran WR Hakeem Nicks, who just signed a one-year deal with the team. Should these offseason adjustments pan out positively as we expect them to do, the Saints can be expected to offer the strongest challenge to Carolina’s title credentials.
Longshot NFC South Pick 2016: Tampa Bay
The Falcons are priced as second-favorites in most sportsbooks and after shining well enough through the Matt Ryan and Julio Jones-led offense and the defense allowing the third-fewest TDS in 2015, it’s hard to discount them from doing well again in 2016. Unfortunately for the Falcons, they have the toughest strength of schedule in the entire NFL in 2016 and every team in the South looks strong, so wins won’t be coming that easy for them in 2016. With that in mind, we feel the Buccaneers offer the best longshot chance in the 2016 NFC South title betting odds.
Besides showing a lot of spirit and improvement in Jameis Winston’s first season in the pros, the Bucs (7-9 in 2015) have a solid running game to support the QB while the team made some pretty good moves in the offseason, especially in regards to strengthening their O and D lines. Lovie Smith and his squad should thus be primed for a better running in the chase for the NFC South crown.
2016 NFC South Predictions
While it doesn’t look like the Panthers will be matching or bettering their 15-1 campaign in 2015, Carolina is still the most to-to-bottom balanced squad in the NFC South; something that should eventually allow them to come out tops in the division. Brees and the Saints will probably finish a close second behind the Panthers, with the Falcons and Buccaneers duking it out anyhowly for the third and fourth positions.
My 2016 NFC South Winning Pick: Carolina