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2009 NFC South Lines / NFL Preview

NFL Division Preview – NFC South

In our quest to be the ONLINE LEADER in NFL Gambling & NFL Handicapping information we’re way out ahead of the rest with our 2009 Divisional Previews for all 8 NFL divisions.

We will be covering the entire off season for each team and giving you a preview of the upcoming 2009 season with updates from now through kickoff of Week 1 of the NFL 2009/10 Season.

If the NFC South were a UFC fight card, it definitely wouldn’t be the star-studded UFC 100. It would be more like the infamously flawed UFC 97. Almost every team in the NFC South has potential to make noise in the playoff picture, but every team is also full of weaknesses that could sink it. Who has the upper hand?


Odds to win NFC South: +165

Are we crazy, or is the Saints’ story becoming Groundhog Day? See Drew Brees throw for a million yards. See Drew Brees turn no-name wideout into a star. See Reggie Bush get hurt. See defense get lit up through the air. See Saints miss the playoffs despite exciting season. Rinse, repeat.

There’s no reason to expect big changes if you’re betting on the Saints’ NFL odds in 2009. Brees will throw like crazy and could match his 2008 numbers considering that the Saints should be luckier with Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey’s health. Reggie Bush should still be dangerous when he plays, but the pressure is definitely off him. Pierre Thomas scored nine times in his last six games and the Saints showed faith in him when they didn’t use an early draft pick on a running back.

The Saints’ run “D” is adequate but the pass defense needs work; though they drafted hard-hitting cornerback Malcolm Jenkins in the first round, I’m not convinced they’ll be better this season.

The Saints should match last year or win an extra game or two, as their offense, believe it or not, could be even better this season.


Odds to win NFC South: +175

So much for rebuilding. 2008 was magical for the Falcons, as rookie quarterback Matt Ryan led a supposed dud team to the playoffs. The Falcons’ future is bright with the poised Ryan under center, especially since he has a great rapport with deep threat Roddy White. He also has Tony Gonzalez as a crucial safety valve at tight end this season. Bulldozer Michael Turner flourished in his first season as a starting running back, placing second in the league in rushing yards and touchdowns. He doesn’t have too much wear on tear on his big frame yet, so he should pummel defenses again.

The Falcons’ “D” epitomizes “bend but don’t break,” as it allowed the 11th-fewest points in the league last year yet ranked in the bottom third in passing and rushing yards allowed. Anyonebetting management would address the need through the draft was right, as the Falcons selected five straight defenders. First-round pick Peria Jerry should improve the run defense at defensive tackle.

Some feel the Falcons will take another step forward in 2009, but I think Matt Ryan may regress slightly; everything went too smoothly in 2008 and defenses will respect him more. I don’t think the Falcons will win fewer games this season – Tony Gonzalez will counterbalance any problems Ryan has – but they won’t improve either. Another 11 wins and playoff berth seem about right.


Odds to win NFC South: +220

It’s not often you see a reigning division winner ranked third in sportsbook NFL predictions entering a season, but that’s the case for the Carolina Panthers, who never get much respect due to their inconsistency. We can at least expect them to score lots of points in 2009, as their running game is phenomenal. Even if DeAngelo Williams doesn’t repeat his MVP-caliber campaign, Jonathan Stewart is a tank and should again team with Williams to form the NFC’s answer to Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

Jake Delhomme never gets much respect, but he and the Panther passing game quietly do enough to win. Steve Smith led the league in receiving yards per game last season and will complement Delhomme whenever he’s in the lineup.

The defense shouldn’t be a weakness or a strength this season. Ken Lucas’ departure left a hole in the secondary. Could that downgrade the pass defense from mediocre to below average? Maybe, but the solid pass rush, led by returning Julius Peppers, will keep heat on opposing quarterbacks.

Don’t count the Panthers out yet – they can run the football, rush the passer, and throw the ball decently enough to contend for the division crown again.


Odds to win NFC South: +700

It’s possible that Tampa’s +700 odds are a bit generous this season, as the Bucs could be the NFC’s worst team. They have some solid weapons on offense – running back Derrick Ward and tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. were astute acquisitions – but their quarterback situation is muddy. Byron Leftwich has already failed as an NFL starter, yet Tampa is handing him the reins, as Josh Freeman probably isn’t ready. That means Antonio Bryant has almost no chance to match his breakout 2008 numbers.

Defensively, the Buccaneers said goodbye to some vital contributors from the last decade. Derrick Brooks, the unofficial leader of the defense, is gone and so is defensive co-ordinator Monte Kiffin. I can’t help but think the remaining group will be exposed as underachievers.

Don’t expect much from Tampa Bay at all this season; it’s as simple as that.

2009 NFC South prediction

Expect this division to shake out exactly the same as it did last year. The Panthers still have almost every piece that made them good last season and, while the Falcons should be better, I still think Matt Ryan’s 11-pick rookie season was a bit lucky. The Saints are still a scoring machine with a porous defense. Give the Panthers the respect they deserve and pick them to repeat as division champs.

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  1. It is hard to understand why the Saints aren’t better than their record. I thought that Sean Peyton was a good coach, but if they do not have a winning season and make the playoffs with the cuurent team he has, I will have to rethink the whole situation.