NFC South Predictions NFL 2022-23: Odds, Picks and Projections

By Lawrence Smelser

Be sure to read this page weekly to view updated odds to win the NFC South, and our ESTNN pro picks and projections.

Our Pro pick on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons Division Game

The Buccaneers will travel to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to square off against their division rivals, the Falcons on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET and the contest can be seen on FOX.

Tampa Bay (8-8) retained its NFC South title after defeating the Carolina Panthers 20-14 last week. Todd Bowles and company secured the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs and are set to host a playoff game.

Mike Evans erupted against the Panthers for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The Texas A&M product also accrued at least 1,000 yards for the ninth-straight season. He’s reached the mark in all nine of his years as a pro. Evans is the first player in NFL history to do so.

Bowles stated he’ll play his regulars in week 18 although it won’t be a shock if he pulls them all by halftime.

Atlanta (6-10) cannot make the postseason and will be playing for pride. The team defeated Arizona 20-19 last week. It was rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder’s first-ever NFL win.

Oddsmakers at Caesars favor the Falcons by four points over the Buccaneers. On the moneyline, Tampa Bay is +162 and Atlanta is -195.

The game total is set at 40.5 points. Gamblers have placed 72% of their bets on the Bucs to cover and 61% of the money on the Falcons to win straight up.

Our pick is to bet Atlanta to cover an alternate 2.5-point spread. Caesars is offering -166 odds for the selection.

Our best bet on odds to win NFC South 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are division champions. The team won the division for a second-straight year.

  1. Tom Brady’s getting older. 
  2. Super Bowl-winning head coach Bruce Arians retired.
  3. Tampa Bay’s defense fell off the wagon.
  4. The receivers get hurt too often.
  5. Todd Bowles has struggled as a head coach before.

Those are five reasons, statements, facts or excuses (call them what you will) floating around NFL circles as to why the Buccaneers are scheduled to have a down year and struggle. Fans and pundits have short memories and are quick to forget that the Bucs were 42 seconds away from overtime after wiping away a 27-3 deficit to the Rams with a shot at the NFC Championship on the line. Matt Gay went on to kick a field goal as time expired and the rest is history as the Rams won Super Bowl LVI. 

Despite father time trying to catch Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl winner continues to impress. In two seasons at the helm for Tampa, Brady holds a 26-9 record. Key players will make their returns and are primed to be fully fit again such as cornerback Sean Murphy-Bunting and slot receiver Chris Godwin. 

The competition in the division appears just too weak to pose any large threat to the Bucs retaining their title. Atlanta is in a total rebuild, while Carolina is in a plug-and-play situation with quarterbacks as their coach Matt Rhule sits in arguably the hottest chair in the league.

New Orleans has an outside chance of upsetting and winning the division if everything comes together. Although, Winston hasn’t proven to be anywhere near elite. The former Seminole has a 33-44 record as a starter.

Preseason odds to finish the season first in the NFC South standings on FanDuel:

  • Tampa Bay -350
  • New Orleans +700
  • Atlanta +1100
  • Carolina +1400

NFC South picks seem simple for gamblers in comparison to tougher divisions with smaller team skill gaps.             

NFC South Prediction: Tampa Bay Bucs to win the division (-350 at FanDuel)

For more news on the standings of other NFC Divisions, read our pages for the NFC NorthNFC East and NFC West.

What is the current situation in the NFC South?

In this section, we’ll examine each team’s strengths and weaknesses.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers (8-8) are NFC South champions. They’ll now try and make a run to the Super Bowl in hopes of lifting it for the second time in three seasons.

 The odds for Todd Bowles’ squad to win the division opened at -350. Futures bettors certainly have smiles on their faces after the up-and-down season for Tampa Bay. 

New Orleans Saints

The Saints (7-9) won their third game in a row with a 20-10 victory over Philadelphia. Although the Saints are a game back of Tampa, they lost the division since the Bucs owned the head-to-head tiebreaker.

The Saints rank 22nd in points per game (20.2) and 19th in total offense (335.6 yards per contest). The defense ranks 9th in total defense surrendering 321.8 yards per game. The unit is 12th in the NFL allowing opponents to score 20.9 PPG. 

New Orleans takes on Carolina in its season finale. Next up for Dennis Allen and his team is the NFL Draft.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers (7-9) almost pulled off the impossible and came back to win their division. The 30-24 loss to Tampa Bay was heartbreaking for the team.

Sam Darnold has played well as the starting quarterback and Steve Wilks has gotten things under control in Charlotte.

Carolina will face New Orleans in the final game of its season. Matt Rhule and Baker Mayfield certainly have been forgotten about after their contribution to the team’s poor start to the campaign.

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons (6-10) are in last place in the division and will try and go out on a positive note against the Buccaneers. They are coming off a 20-19 win over Arizona.

Rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder is now 1-2 as the team’s starter. The 23-year-old was selected in the third round of the 2022 draft out of Cincinnati.

Atlanta hoped rookie wide receiver Drake London (drafted No. 8 overall) could replace Calvin Ridley’s (last year’s WR1) production this season. The former USC Trojan answered the call and leads the team in receiving, with 66 receptions for 746 yards and four touchdowns.

The team opened the season as +6000 underdogs to win the division. The Falcons tried and remained competitive most of the year but will now shift their focus to the NFL Draft.

History of the NFC South Standings

The NFC South teams are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers. The NFL realigned divisions to four teams each prior to the 2002 season.

Below is the number of titles each organization holds:

New Orleans- 7

Carolina- 5

Atlanta- 4

Tampa Bay- 4

The NFC South has been extremely competitive. No single team has dominated such as in other divisions.  The longest streak of titles was from 2017-2020 when the Saints won four in a row.

In terms of age, the teams in the division are relatively young. The Falcons were founded in 1966, followed by the Saints in 1967. The Buccaneers formed their franchise in 1974, followed by the Panthers in 1993.

All-time best players on NFC South teams

The following list includes some of the most influential athletes to participate in the division.

Drew Brees (New Orleans, 1992-2010)

The Austin, Texas native’s best career highlight was outdueling Peyton Manning in the 2010 Super Bowl and winning Super Bowl MVP. Brees’ other accomplishments aren’t too shabby. The Purdue product ranks second in NFL history in passing yards, touchdown passes and completion percentage. The QB’s partnership with Sean Payton led them to many playoff appearances.

Julio Jones (Atlanta, 2011-2020 Tampa Bay, 2022)

The Six-Time pro bowler and two-time first-team All-Pro is still active and has amassed 13,330 receiving yards as he enters his 12th year as a pro. Below are some of his impressive statistics.

Receptions: 879

Receiving average: 15.2 yards per catch

Receiving touchdowns: 61

Jones fell just short of winning the Super Bowl with Atlanta after New England’s 28-3 comeback in Super Bowl LI. Ironically, the 33-year-old is now teammates with Brady, the leader of the rally.

Tom Brady (Tampa Bay 2020-2022)

The man (or goat?) with seven rings, more than most other decorated athletes have in their respective sports, won a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers. The former sixth-round pick retired during the offseason but decided to send shock waves throughout the football world when he decided to return for his 23rd season.

Cam Newton (Carolina, 2011-2019, 2021)

The 2011, No. 1 pick out of Auburn, entered the NFL on fire after winning a national championship. Newton is Carolina’s all-time career leader in passing yards (29,725), touchdown passes, (186) and games started at QB (133).  

In 2015, he was named the league’s most valuable player after leading the Panthers to a franchise-best, 15-1 record. Newton went all the way to Super Bowl 50, but faltered to the Denver Broncos.

Matt Ryan (Atlanta, 2008-2021)

“Matty Ice” was highly touted out of Boston College and surely didn’t disappoint when selected in 2008 by Atlanta. Ryan won an NFL MVP in 2016 as well as the Rookie of the Year in 2008.

Similar to Newton, Ryan lost in the Super Bowl during his MVP campaign. The 37-year-old is Atlanta’s career leader in passing yards, (59,735) touchdowns, (367) completions (5,242) and games played (222).