This year will be much of the same for teams in the NFC South.

The division will once again be competitive with plenty of surprises. All four teams have a legitimate shot at winning the division, as long as Tampa Bay matures into the team I believe it can be.

Will there be a dud, though? Here’s my best bets for NFL win totals in the NFC South. Last year, my hype train for Tampa Bay didn’t work so well, with a 1-3 mark in win totals.

Matt Ryan should lead his team to a solid season in 2018 in the NFC South. Flickr/Keith Allison/

Atlanta Falcons, over/under 9.5

Atlanta is my arch nemesis. Every year, I anticipate a down year, only to see the Falcons somehow manage double-digit wins.

Even with a reduced effort by Matt Ryan in 2017, the Falcons still ranked 12th in yards per play allowed and sixth in yards per play on offense.

Those are good numbers and I don’t see much changing in 2018. What’s gotten better for Atlanta in recent years is its defensive approach. We’re only four years removed from this defense being the worst defense in terms of yards per play in the NFL.

And even during its runner-up Super Bowl run, this team was a bottom-half defensive unit. However, with head coach Dan Quinn running the show, the defense has consistently improved, and this year should be no different.

Oddsmakers are expecting a lot out of the Falcons, but this team should be penciled in as a double-digit wins team, with the ability to play both sides of the ball at a high level. — Verdict: Over

Carolina Panthers, over/under 8.5

What’s scary for Carolina is what the stats tell about last season.

The Panthers won 11 games, so that’s good. The problem is that doesn’t hold up when comparing this team to others in the NFL. Carolina finished 23rd in yards per play allowed and 19th in yards per play on offense.

That screams the wins were not indicative to actually how good this team was on the field.

Carolina featured a below-average defense and offense, yet won 11 games. The NFL has a weird way of evening out the score, so expect a step back for this team, which didn’t get better defensively in the offseason. If you’re looking for a major dud in the NFC South, look no further than Carolina. — Verdict: Under

New Orleans Saints, over/under 8.5

Oddsmakers are being more cautious than I anticipated with New Orleans.

The public loves the Saints. That’s why the over for the Saints is tied with Miami as having the worst return on investment at -200. However, I tend to agree with oddsmakers on this level.

Sean Payton can’t control himself. He loves to pass, so it’s natural to believe New Orleans won’t keep that run-first attitude that brought home an NFC South title in 2017.

And defensively, this team is still too forgiving, ranking 21st in yards per play in 2017. I don’t trust Payton to keep that offense rolling, so I’m siding with the cautious play, and grabbing great value at +170 for the under. — Verdict: Under

Tampa Bay Buccaneers, over/under 6.5

When will I ever learn?

I was all over Tampa Bay last year, only to be left disappointed. The defense was atrocious, ranking last in the NFL in yards per play allowed.

But, I have hope. That defense battled through so many injuries in the early part of the season, it was impossible to field a cohesive unit. By the time the Buccaneers weren’t dealing with injuries anymore, the season was lost.

And offensively, the Bucs were a top-10 unit.

That defense has the talent to be a top-half unit. If you believe in that talent as much as I do, this is an easy decision. — Verdict: Over

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