In terms of quarterbacks, this is the most interesting division in the NFC. Can Drew Brees produce after all the offseason controversy with the Saints? Can Cam Newton put up numbers in his sophomore season the same way he did in his rookie season? Will Josh Freeman show improvement and not regression? Can Matt Ryan stay consistent and finally get the Falcons winning in the playoffs? NFC south is the perennial video game style division, it's going to be a fun year.
1. The Atlanta Falcons. Balance is the name of the game when you talk about the Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Julio Jones, Roddie White, and Tony Gonzalez. These Falcons will keep you guessing with the a bus in the backfield, Two freakishly athletic receivers, one of the best tight ends of all time, and a very efficient quarterback. The run defense is very solid, they ranked 6th last season in yards per game allowed. The pass D ranked 20th, but that is expected in the pass happy NFC south, they also added Asante Samuel to the secondary. That rank will improve as the schedule does feature a few teams that do struggle with the pass. Look for the Falcons to go (13-3) and win the NFC South.
2. The New Orleans Saints. We all known it has been a rough offseason for the New Orleans Saints. But if anybody expects this team to have a bad year, you are terribly mistaken. The offense won't suffer, Drew Brees much like Peyton Manning, is the offensive coordinator once the team hits the field. When Drew was holding out, I actually felt like this was one of the few times I was siding with the player, he deserves every penny he earns, that is how much he means to the Saints. Their schedule doesn't look to bad, they start of with Washington, @ Carolina, and Kansas City. This team could easily start (3-0). Expect to see some shootouts, I like them to finish (10-6), (9-7) maybe, It is all in Drew Brees hands.
3. The Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton exceeded expectations last year, but now it is time to see what he is made of. 21 touchdowns to 17 interceptions last year, that will not cut it. On the bright side, those 14 rushing touchdowns are a huge bonus, if his passing game develops, Cam Newton can be unstoppable. He's got a long way to go. Luckily he isn't the only player on the offense that has a big impact. They have a solid RB combo in Johnathon Stewart and Deangello Williams, they combined for 1,597 yards last season and 11 touchdowns. Steve Smith looks to have another monster year. The defense is weak, they are another shootout team. If all goes well this team can .500, maybe (9-7).
4. The Tampa Bay Buccanears. Last year was supposed to be a breakout year, and it just did not happen, it felt like more of a bump in the road in terms of Josh Freemans maturity. 16 TD's to 22 INT'S. He threw for close to 4K yards. LeGarrete Blount's injury slowed things down to and the run game suffered. They have 2 aging receivers in Mike Wallace and Kellen Winslow. The defense was worst in the league last year against the run, and in the bottom half of the league against the pass. They picked up Mark Barron in the draft with will help the secondary. The Bucs have to many questions and do not play the easiest schedule, (6-10).