The NFC South could be one of the most intriguing divisions in all of football. They have four quarterbacks who have high expectations in Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Jameis Winston.
NFC South Preview and Prediction:
New Orleans Saints, (12-4):
The Saints are coming off two heartbreaking ends to the 2017 and 2018 Season. The Minnesota Vikings knocked out New Orleans two years ago with a miracle catch.
New Orleans still hasn’t recovered from last season lost and the “No call.”
Despite these losses the Saints are primed to dominate this division and win 11 or more games. 18 of the 22 players who played in the NFC Championship Game are back. Drew Brees is like a fine wine, He gets better with age. Brees completed 74.4% of his passes last year and had over 3,900 yards, 32 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Michael Thomas could be the best WR in the NFL. He had 125 catches, 1,405 yards and 9 touchdown receptions. Mark Ingram is now in Baltimore so Alvin Kamara should get most of the work load in the backfield. Kamara is dual threat out of the backfield who had over 800 yards rushing and over 700 yards receiving. I would not be surprised if Kamara joins Roger Craig and Marshall Faulk to be the only running backs to run and catch for over 1,000 yards.
Defensively this team is led by Cameron Jordan who had 12 sacks last season. The Saints don’t have many elite players on defensive but as a unit they are a solid group.
Drew Brees struggled down the stretch last season. He looked tired and had arm fatigue. I would expect the Saints to try and rest him a game or two during the season. With Kamara and Thomas, the Saints could have the best RB, WR combination in the NFL. They win this division going away.
Atlanta Falcons, (9-7):
The Strength of this team is quarterback Matt Ryan and Wide Receivers,Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. Ryan threw for over 3,900 yards and had 35 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions. Jones had 113 catches and 1,677 receiving yards. Tevin Coleman rushed for over 800 yards last season but he is now in San Francisco. Devonta Freeman should get the bulk of the carries but he is coming off an injury. TE, Austin Hooper had 71 catches last season and can improve on that number in 2019. Ridley could replace Sanu as the Falcon’s number two option.
Defensively, the Falcons had a ton of injuries last year. They only accumulated 37 sacks. They must improve on that number if they want to compete for a wild-card. The Falcons have talent on both sides of the ball. The big question mark here is on the sidelines. Dan Quinn came to Atlanta as a defensive Guru, but his defense hasn’t been great. If the Falcons don’t make the playoffs, he could be out of a job.
The Panthers started the 2018 season 6-2, they finished with a record of 7-9. This team is led by Cam Newton, but he has had major shoulder problems over the past few years. The Panthers drafted West Virginia quarterback Will Grier in the 3rd round. Could Grier be their future at QB? Christian McCaffrey is the best running back with the least amount of fan fare. He rushed for over 1,000 yards, averaged 5 yards per carry and set an NFL record with 107 receptions by a running back.
The strength of this defense should be in their linebacker core. Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson combined for 209 tackles last season. The secondary should be improved with the signing of Eric Reid. This is a make a break year for Newton, Head Coach, Ron Rivera and General Manager, Marty Hurney. If they don’t make the playoffs all three could be gone next season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8):
Bruce Arians was hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to save Jameis Winston’s career. The Former number 1 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft has been a colossal disappointment. Winston has a record of 21-33, 88 touchdown passes, 58 interceptions and 38 fumbles. The Bucs have a plethora of offensive talent around Winston. Mike Evans is a legitimate number 1 wide receiver and could catch over 100 balls on the season.
Defensively, Todd Bowles will be calling the plays. Bowles is in the same category as Norv Turner and Wade Phillips. They are very good coordinators but very bad head coaches.
Arians and Bowles should turn this team around… If all goes well they can compete for a wild card position.
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