The NFL season is now just two weeks away, and our NFC South Power Rankings are here!
New Orleans Saints
The NFC South is wide open this year, and we’ve got the Saints narrowly coming out on top. Derek Carr may not be the quarterback Vegas wanted him to be, but he’s still an upgrade from what New Orleans had last season in Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston. If Michael Thomas can stay healthy and Alvin Kamara gets back to form, the Saints could actually have a pretty potent offence. They’re still solid defensively as well, so with a weak division to play against in six games this year, expect a winning record from New Orleans. Their record may show a better team than the tape does at the end of the season, but regardless, it’ll be good enough for a home playoff game in the Wild Card round. From there, anything can happen.
As long as the Falcons can control the tempo of their games, they’ll have a chance to win quite a few of them. This is not a team that will want to get behind multiple scores and throw the ball a lot, but if teams allow them to continue to run, watch out. Rookie Bijan Robinson will headline a very talented backfield, with options like Cordarrelle Patterson and Tyler Allgeier set to pitch in behind him. Desmond Ridder is also a threat to run at quarterback, so the option game will certainly be something to watch for in Atlanta. They have some talent catching the ball as well, though, with Kyle Pitts at tight end and Drake London at WR. Overall, Atlanta’s defensive issues will prevent them being a truly dangerous team in the NFC South, but don’t be surprised if the Falcons make some strides this season.
The Panthers went all in for a franchise quarterback this offseason, trading away two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and D.J. Moore for the first overall selection. Now, they’ve got their man in Bryce Young, but they don’t have much more than that. In the passing game, Adam Thielen and D.J. Chark will be Young’s top options. The QB will most likely have to learn how to get the ball to his guys under duress, though, because Carolina’s offensive line is simply not that good. On the defensive side of the ball, Jaycee Horn will highlight a middling unit that’ll need to play well to give the team a chance to win games.
Like a few other teams in the league now, Carolina is looking to the future with much to be excited about. With a prospect like Young, they’re hoping that most of the losing is behind them. Still, being a rookie QB in this league comes with growing pains and I expect to see a few this year in Carolina.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The post-Tom Brady era is here in Tampa Bay, and it starts with Baker Mayfield at QB. He’ll still have a similar team of talented pass catchers around him, but Mayfield isn’t exactly Brady. As a team that finished 8-9 last season, they’ll have to find a way to get Mayfield playing some decent ball to have a chance to compete in the NFC South this season. The roster still has some bright spots, but an older team with a new quarterback may not be enough to keep the Bucs in the playoffs for a fourth straight season. What gives them a chance, though, is playing in arguably the league’s worst division this season.
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