Welcome to Bet Labs 2016 NFL preview series where we will look at all eight of the league’s divisions. As part of the preview, we will highlight each team’s chances of winning their respective division and take a look at their season win total.
To create our projections we simulated the 2016 NFL season 10,000 times using our NFL Strength of Schedule.
2015 Record: 15-1
Home Games: NYJ, NO, JAX, TB, TEN
Away Games: HOU, PIT, IND, CAR, ATL
The Panthers won their third straight NFC South championship after going 15-1 last year. Carolina set franchise records for best start and longest winning streak by starting the season 14-0. The team was balanced as the offense ranked 11th and the defense 6th in total yards. Cam Newton won the MVP and the franchise returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in twelve years.
It is unreasonable to project the Panthers to finish with 15 wins again (only 0.8% chance to occur); in fact there are indicators (record in close games, Pythagorean differential) that suggest the team will regress in 2016. Still, the defending NFC Champions are the class of the division (no other team has a season win total above 7.5 games). After 10,000 simulations of the 2016 season the Carolina Panthers win the NFC South 69.7% of the time.
|Panthers O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
At 10.5 games, the Panthers are tied for the largest season win total in football. The team’s most likely record is 10-6 (occurs 21.3% of the time). There is value on taking the under 10.5 at +136 or better odds.
2015 Record: 8-8
Home Games: CAR, IND, ATL, HOU, NE
Away Games: CIN, TB, NO, JAX, TEN
You might have forgot but Atlanta began the 2015 season 6-1. However, after the hot start the team went 2-7 in the second half (though they did end Carolina’s 14-0 winning streak). So which version of the Falcons will we see in 2016?
Atlanta finished last year 23rd in offensive DVOA and 22nd in defensive DVOA. This is a middling team that plays one of the hardest schedules in football this season. The Falcons will fight to be a .500 team and are projected to go 7-9 (occurs 20.4% of the time in our simulations).
|Falcons O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
The Falcons only have an 11.5% chance to win the division. The oddsmakers are bullish on the team either and have set the win total at 7.5 games. The under 7.5 at -129 or better odds would provide value.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2015 Record: 6-10
Home Games: ATL, HOU, CAR, BUF, IND
Away Games: NO, TEN, BAL, JAX, TB
Lovie Smith is gone after the team lost its final four games of the season to miss the playoffs. Dirk Koetter was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach to continue the development of Jameis Winston. Tampa Bay was an average to below average team in 2015 and project to be so once again this season, unless Winston takes a big step forward as a quarterback.
The team is projected to improve upon its 6-10 record from a season ago but only slightly. Tampa Bay should avoid finishing last in the division for a sixth straight season but the team’s average projected record of 7-9 isn’t inspiring.
|Buccaneers O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
Vegas has set the Bucs season over/under at 7.5 games, which would be a 1.5 game improvement over their record from a season ago. You would need a strong season from Jameis Winston plus +133 or better odds to feel comfortable taking the over 7.5 games.
New Orleans Saints
2015 Record: 7-9
Home Games: JAX, NO, TEN, MIA, TB
Away Games: IND, ATL, HOU, CAR, CLE
By now you know the Saints’ story. An offensive juggernaut, finished second last year in total offense (6,461 yards) – Drew Brees led the league in passing; he has done so now in four of the last five seasons. The team’s Achilles heel is the defense. The Saints gave up the second most passing (4,544 yards) and rushing yards (2,076 yards) and allowed a league worst 476 points in 2015. New Orleans will miss the playoffs for a fourth time in the last five years as the squad is projected to finish 7-9 (20.7% chance of occurring).
|Saints O/U||Over%||Under%||Implied Odds|
The Saints have the lowest win total in the division at just 7 games. The under would provide value if you can get -133 or better odds.
NFC South Division Odds
|Team||Division Win Probability|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11.1%|
|New Orleans Saints||7.8%|
It is Carolina and everyone else. The Panthers are big favorites to take the division and at -200 odds there is value betting the team to win the NFC South.
Check back next week when we preview the AFC South.