New Orleans Saints
To win division: 1.76
Regular season total: 10.5 wins
After winning the division three times in a row, New Orleans are favorites to do it for the fourth time as well. And it's easy to see why. They are playing like a well-oiled machine under Sean Payton and there are not many changes comparing to the previous season, which is more important than ever in this Covid-19 era. Teams didn't have offseason programs, the preseason is canceled and the training camp practices will definitely be different than they were. That is why the teams that didn't make any changes to the coaching staff and key positions on the field, will have a serious advantage over the teams that did.
Some of the most notable departures were Larry Warford, Teddy Bridgewater, and Vonn Bell. But the front office found replacements immediately, signing Jameis Winston and Malcolm Jenkins, while drafting Cesar Ruiz in the first round of the draft. Addition of Emmanuel Sanders should get a mention as well and when we look at all these transactions together, we could argue that the Saints' front office managed to improve an already strong roster.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
To win division: 2.60
Regular season total: 9.5 wins
They will have some strong competition this year, though. It is expected that Tampa Bay will get in the mix for the division title, after ending the regular season with a disappointing 7-9 record last year. A single change in their roster was enough for people to start believing in their success. After picking him as No.1 overall in 2015, Buccaneers decided that they will not offer a long term extension to Jameis Winston. Instead of that, they signed Tom Brady, whose time was done in New England after 20 seasons and 6 Superbowl rings. Players like him have some magnetism about them, which explains why Rob Gronkowski decided to come out of retirement and team up with his old QB again.
Brady is surrounded by a lot of talent in Tampa Bay and is in a good position to succeed. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, OJ Howard, Rob Gronkowski... That's definitely one of the best receiving group around the league. And most importantly, the O-line is not too shabby either, which is something a 42-year old, pocket passer will appreciate. If the defense can keep it up with the offense, they could be a very good team this year. Todd Bowles did improve defense against the run last year, but he'll face a challenge to do the same with the play of their secondary this year. Tampa Bay invested a lot in these positions recently, spending five picks total in 2nd&3rd round of the NFL draft, but so far those players haven't lived up to their potential.
To win division: 8.00
Regular season total: 7.5 wins
The current regime in Atlanta is probably coaching to keep their jobs this year. They had two consecutive 7-9 seasons and are heading in the wrong direction, after almost winning a Superbowl in 2016. Not only that they have been performing poorly, but their roster also seems to be getting weaker and weaker. So far they've lost Beasley, Trufant, Clayborn, Hooper, Freeman, Campbell... Most of these guys being important players on the 2019 Falcons team. Only two signings worth mentioning so far, Dante Fowler and Todd Gurley (who is btw contemplating opt-ing out of the 2020 season).
Their recent teams lacked depth which was very obvious during preseasons when Falcons won very few games. Also, they were failing to fight through the injuries, which is another sign that Dimitroff's teams lacked some depth. This year that could be more important than ever, with the current situation where players are opting out, injuries will happen and people getting positive for Covid-19. Depth of the roster will get tested and I'm afraid that Falcons will flunk that test. There's been some confusion with the coaching as well. When things went wrong, Dan Quinn started panicking and made questionable decisions, such as appointing himself as his own defensive coordinator. The defense continued to struggle, which was a bad look for a coach that worked with the Legion of Boom up in Seattle, before becoming HC of the Atlanta Falcons. Owner Arthur Blank had their back so far, but three losing seasons in a row might just be a bit too much.
To win division: 23.00
Regular season total: 5.5 wins
Carolina is the only team in the division with the coaching change this year. As I mentioned already, new coaching staffs will have many problems to make the players familiar with their schemes and playbooks. With limited time on the practice field in this year's training camps, we might see some sloppy play early in the regular season by the teams with new coaching staffs. Besides that, Matt Rhule is bringing in a new QB as well. Teddy Bridgewater will replace Cam Newton. I might be wrong on this one, but it seems to me this is too many changes for a unique situation like this. Panthers might need this season just to get to know each other and get comfortable in the new system. I doubt they'll compete for the division.
And that's not it. When we look at the list of departures, it seems like it doesn't end. Greg Olsen, Bruce Irvin, Greg Van Roten, James Bradberry, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Mario Addison, Vernon Butler, Daryl Williams, Eric Reid... And these are only guys that had some kind of role on last year's team. They got replaced with players like John Miller and Eli Apple. I mean, c'mon. They don't really expect Eli Apple to start in place of James Bradberry, do they? Offense might still do well. Bridgewater is a solid QB. They have some speed on the outside and Christian McCaffrey in the backfield. But defensively, they're gonna struggle. First of all, they seem to be switching into 3-4, after years of 4-3 under Rivera. Many players will probably not be as good of a fit in that scheme as they were in 4-3. And there is simply less talent on that side of the ball now, comparing to previous years. They are really thin in the secondary and that's gonna hurt in a division where you're facing Drew Brees, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan.