What Sharps Think About NFC South



The defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints take the field for the first time this season Thursday Night against New England in a big TV game. That makes it the perfect time to go over what sharps (professional wagerers) are thinking this year about the Saints division, the NFC South.

New Orleans surprised a lot of people going 12-4 last season. It's not that people didn't think they were any good. They were expecting a 9-10 win season for the most part. The popular choices to win the NFC were Dallas, Philadelphia, and even Minnesota during the season once Brett Favre was on a roll. New Orleans was supposed to be one of those teams that ran up the score on losers, but didn't know how to win the big one.

They won out of the gate...and kept right on winning until very late in the season. Once the playoffs started, they ran the table and took the Lombardi Trophy back to the Big Easy.

You might be surprised to learn that the Regular Season Win total for the Saints is just 10.5 wins. They certainly played better than that in 2009. But, the market almost always expects a regression to the mean for elite teams. You have to figure injuries will be a bigger issue. And, the bounce of the ball may not favor the Saints the same way in close games.

Here are the projections for the NFC South as a whole...

New Orleans 10.5 wins
Atlanta 8.5 to 9 wins
Carolina 7 to 7.5 wins
Tampa Bay 5.5 wins

Believe it or not, the Under is actually a small favorite right now on that 10.5 for the Saints. You can get even money or +110 or so betting the Over. You have to lay around -130 to bet Under 10.5 wins. The moneylines are currently favoring Atlanta Over, Carolina Under 7.5 but Over 7, and Tampa Bay Over 5.5 wins. You have to pay extra juice if you want to bet in those directions.

What do sharps think? Sharps have been hitting Atlanta Over with some confidence. In fact, you'd be hardpressed to find many 8.5's any more. I've seen one offshore where you have to pay a whopping -210 to take the Over. Sharps like Matt Ryan at quarterback. They believe if the Saints are due to fall back to earth some the Falcons are the team best suited to move up. And, Atlanta went 9-7 anyway last year...which is right at the market price. Any improvement, and you've got a winner!

In my discussions with sharps, I'm hearing skepticism about Carolina's quarterback situation, and skepticism about Tampa Bay's head coach. Sharps believe the market has fairly priced those teams at this point. Only big name injuries or line moves from public action would get them to jump in right now.

Remember that sharps tend to play more Unders than Overs with this kind of prop. So, betting Over with Atlanta is an endorsement to be sure. I believe sharps will be looking to go against the Saints in regular season games against public-inflated prices. They'd rather do that than try to squeeze Under 10.5 wins with a team that won so often last year. They'll be playing a wait and see game with Carolina and Tampa Bay.

I've already looked at the AFC Central and NFC East in recent days (please check the archives if you missed those articles). Next up will be the NFC West on Saturday. Note that defending divisional champion Arizona opens its season that night. This year's favorite San Francisco debuts against Indianapolis on Sunday.


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