By Angel L. Quiles Jr.
New Orleans Saints
As long as you have Drew Brees as your quarterback you will always have a chance to win. When you give Drew Brees weapons like tight end Jimmy Graham, and wide receivers Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, and Brandin Cooks. You will have a chance to win in style. Offensively the Saints are stacked higher than the International House of Pancakes (IHOP). There’s two ways they won’t win 12 games or more in an over rated NFC South. First, if their offensive line doesn’t mesh and Brees finds himself on the turf often. Second if they lose to the strong opponents they will face out of their division. Such as, the Steelers, 49ers, Ravens, and Packers.
However, that will depend on Rob Ryan and the development of their defense. Ryan’s defense wasn’t horrible last season. They were able to win a playoff game, and gave the champion Seahawks all they could handle in the divisional round. The reason why they didn’t go further is because they couldn’t force turnovers. They mustered a measly four turnovers during the last nine games last season, and zero in the post season. If the Saints can work on their ball hawking skills they could cruise to the NFC championship game and win the whole shebang.
Cam Newton and the Panthers had an amazing year last season, and Newton looked like a man under the helm who had matured. Don’t expect the same level of success this year Panther fans. Unless Cam becomes the superman he mimics every time he scores a touchdown.
The Panthers don’t have the firepower to put up the amount of points necessary to do damage in the NFC. They lost three of their best wide receivers in the offseason, including Panther legend Steve Smith. Their only playmaker besides Newton is 6’5 inch, 240-pound beast wide receiver Kevin Benjamin. However, height does not translate into success, and he will be double covered more than Trey Songz at the club.
The Panthers do have a stout defense, which allowed the second fewest points in the NFL last season, and defensive tackle Kawann Short is a beast creating pressure against opposing quarterbacks. Their defensive backs are strong and disciplined in pass coverage. Unfortunately for the Panthers in the NFL offensive coordinators adapt. Circumstances change when you win, and become the hunted. Compound that with the tougher schedule the Panthers will have this season, and it’s easy to see why it wont be easy this year.
Julio Jones, and Roddy White the Falcons scary pass catching tandem were not healthy at all last season. Jones missed the last 11 games with a broken foot, and White was beat up all season with leg problems. This year they look ready to return to form, and help quarterback Matt Ryan forget about his dismal year last season. If all three stay healthy they have a high-octane offense that can score points with the best of them, if not expect another four win season.
The real issue with the Falcons is their defense. The edge rushers were pitiful last season, and were 29th overall in sacks. Their linebackers couldn’t stop the run, and left gaping holes your grandmother could get through. Luckily they have a defensive tackle in Paul Soliai who can clog the middle, but he will need help. Look for the Falcons to improve but don’t get your hopes to high.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs will be the dark horse in this division. In the offseason they signed quarterback Josh McCown. McCown had an inspiring run with the Chicago Bears the prior season, and showed the world that hard work and perseverance can pay off. Pay off it did to the tune of two years, and 10 million dollars for the Bucs new signal caller.
Hard work and perseverance are what the Bucs are hoping for in third year running back Doug Martin. Martin suffered a season ending shoulder injury in 2013. In 2012, Martin rushed for a franchise rookie record 1,454 yards, and was a locomotive that hardly anyone could stop.
If Martin, can be brutal to defenses again, and McCown can keep up the good work, by keeping turnovers low. The Bucs could create numeral one on one opportunities in favor of their best wide receiver Vincent Jackson. If the Bucs play their cards right, they can be last years Carolina Panthers within the division.
Of course, this is all pending on the development of Tampa’s defense, who were decent last year, and have talented players. Therefore, if you’re a Bucs fan keep your eyes peeled for defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, linebacker Levonte David, and cornerback Alteraun Verner’s impacts on the field.
NFC South Predictions
1- New Orleans Saints- 11-5
2- Tampa Bay Buccaneers- 9-7
3- Carolina Panthers- 7-9
4- Atlanta Falcons- 5-11
NFC Soth Top 10 Fantasy Players
1- Jimmy Graham- NO
2- Doug Martin- TB
3- Drew Brees- NO
4- Julio Jones- ATL
5- Vincent Jackson- TB
6- Roddy White- ATL
7- Cam Newton- CAR
8- Stephen Jackson- ATL
9- Marques Colston- NO
10- Pierre Thomas- NO