Wednesday, 26 August 2009

NFC South Predictions

Every year there seems to be a new face atop the NFC South. In a League that is full of change and unpredictably, no division in the NFL exemplifies that more than the NFC South. Over the past 5-10 years, each team in the division has had their degrees of success and division titles, which is not always the case in other divisions. Once again, entering the 2009 season the division race looks wide open.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will probably occupy the cellar of the division, as they are in the midst of a lot of change. They will have a new head coach, new quarterback, and a lot of new pieces on defense. They made it clear that they were looking to rebuild, as they did not spend a lot of their free cap space, and drafted QB Josh Freeman in round 1. They have some nice young pieces, but they won't be contending for a division title this season.

The New Orleans Saints look like they will be the 3rd place team in this division. They have a very explosive offense (led by Drew Brees), but the defense will once again be very suspect. Expect them to air it out often like last year, with Brees getting lots and lots of passing yards. He is one of the best QBs in the League, and perfectly suited for Sean Payton's offense. However, they will need a more consistent running attack from guys like Pierre Thomas and Reggie Bush if they are going to have any chance to contend in the division.

I believe the Carolina Panthers will be in second place in the division, just one year after winning it and getting a first round bye. If their running back committee of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart can stay healthy, they will again have one of the best running attacks in the NFL. However, I am still not sold on Jake Delhomme. At this point in his career, he seems like a guy just good enough to get by in the regular season, but not good enough to take a team places in the postseason.

That leaves the Atlanta Falcons, who I think will be the best team in the division. They are led by 2nd year QB Matt Ryan, who is one of the best young quarterbacks in the game. He adds another weapon to his disposal with TE Tony Gonzalez, one of the best tight ends of all-time. With Michael Turner back and an improving defense, the Falcons should continue to get better under coach Mike Smith. They should win the division and could be one of the best teams in the NFC.

So the NFC South should be a wide open division once again. The division race seems to be between the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, but the New Orleans Saints have the firepower to sneak in there and make some noise. I like the Falcons to eventually prevail, but it will be an interesting and entertaining division race to watch this season.

What is your prediction?