The Vegas line for 2009 season wins has been set for the NFL recently. These are the guys that make millions on sports betting – these guys are good at setting these lines. My first observation was that a ton of teams, especially in the NFC, were between 7-9 wins for the over/under. That’s basically saying “we don’t really know who is going to make the playoffs and the conference is a muddled mess.”
The NFC South has 3 teams with 8 wins or more. Carolina and New Orleans are at 8.5 with Atlanta at 8 wins. I was doing some research and some of the most accurate predictors of NFL success for an upcoming season are the strength of schedule (meaning you have a much better shot at improving with an easier schedule) and the way you beat a strong schedule is with a great quarterback.
The NFC South plays the NFC East and AFC East this year – which makes it tough for any team to win 12 games or more. Plus, they play each other which accounts for 14 of their 16 games. New Orleans and Atlanta are both capable of great quarterback play – counting on Jake Delhomme in Carolina is a stretch. The Panthers had a far easier schedule in 2008 and I expect them to fall back some in 2009. The games of each team’s schedule based on their 2008 finish are: @SF and @Chi for Atlanta, vs.Det and @STL for New Orleans, and vs.Minn and @Ari for Carolina.
I would expect the NFC South champion in 2009 to have 10 wins with the schedule difficulty where it is. Obviously the Saints have the easiest games with Detroit and St.Louis. It’s hard for me to believe that with all the additions and another year under the same regime and Matt Ryan with a real off-season, that Atlanta slips 3 games to 8-8 in 2009. If I were a betting man, I would put my money on the over with Vegas.