NFC SOUTH PREDICTIONS
Today we head down to the NFC South. This division has been one that changes up fairly consistently with no true dominant number one team year in and year out. This division has also been one of the more competitive, with at least three teams being very consistent with at least .500 seasons.
One thing to keep an eye on going forward in this division is that three of the four starting quarterbacks are all in the twilight of their career. Any team that wants to make something big happen, needs to make their move as soon as possible.
Now let’s jump into what we believe will be the final standings in the NFC South for the 2020 NFL season.
#1.) NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This shouldn’t be much of a shock to anyone. The Saints have been a fluke play away from a potential Superbowl run for two seasons in a row. This is without a doubt the best team in the NFC South, and it really isn’t close.
The Saints’ offense is still headed by Drew Brees who is one of the best quarterbacks of the modern era, possibly of all-time. To add to the attack they have a running back that excels in the passing game in Alvin Kamara, and the best possession receiver in the NFL with Michael Thomas. Then the Saints went out and got a veteran route runner to play opposite Thomas when they signed Emmanuel Sanders. They did not make the sexy pick in the NFL draft, but did manage to pick up one of the best interior lineman in the draft by selecting Cesar Ruiz from Michigan. This offense should be capable of performing at an even higher level than it has for the past two seasons.
On the defensive side of the ball the Saints did suffer a few losses. They lost A.J. Klein, Eli Apple and Vonn Bell. The loss of Klein was hopefully negated by the drafting of Zach Braun from Wisconsin, and losing Vonn Bell was balanced by signing Malcom Jenkins. When looking at the defense in its entirety, it should be fair to expect similar production to previous seasons. Let’s just hope Marcus Williams can make it through a postseason without giving up a fluke play.
If the Saints don’t win this division it would be shocking to us. They have been the best team in the NFC South and remain the best team in the NFC South. Should be an easy playoff run for the Saints.
#2.) ATLANTA FALCONS
The Falcons have remained competitive in the division for most of Matt Ryan’s career. This year should be no different, although the Falcons are likely not a championship caliber team…or even a division leading team for that matter.
The offense has attempted to get better this off-season. They obviously have Matt Ryan calling the offense with Julio Jones doing greatest receiver of all time things like each and every other year. Beyond that however, they have added Todd Gurley and Laquan Treadwell. Gurley is more of a vanity signing in our opinion however. He is over hyped and will not perform anywhere near the value needed for the money that was paid to acquire him. Treadwell on the other hand should produce nicely in an offense that will allow him to be the third option. The only real loss this season was tight end Austin Hooper, but we feel an argument could be made that Atlanta has little issue making any tight end look good and that Hooper will be underwhelming in his new home anyway. In fact, following a trade with Baltimore that resulted in the Falcons getting Hayden Hurst, they could realistically be in a better situation talent wise at the tight end position.
Atlanta’s defense did take some lumps in this off-season however. They lost Vic Beasley, De’Vondre Campbell and Desmond Trufant. None of those losses are impossible to overcome, but they were quality players in their defense. Trufant was the major blow there, but that could be offset by the selection of A.J. Terrell from Clemson in the NFL Draft. The Falcons were also able to sign Dante Fowler in free agency who is almost surely a net positive over Vic Beasley. Defense probably won’t be the Falcons’ strength, but it should be serviceable enough to keep Matt Ryan in a position to win games.
In our opinion the Falcons will be a fairly solid number two finish in the NFC South and could very possibly compete for a wild card. They will likely not be in contention to take the division however.
#3.) CAROLINA PANTHERS
The Panthers have some coaching shake ups and major position changes that they will need to overcome this season. The Panthers replaced coach Ron Rivera this season with Matt Rhule, who used to coach at Baylor University. Rhule and his ability to adapt to the NFL will be the big story for the outcome of the Panthers season in our opinion.
The biggest change for the Panthers on offense will be the move made for Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is a winner in our book, and should have been a starter for the last several years after an injury back in the Minnesota days knocked his career off track. Not only is the talent level there with Bridgewater, but the style of offense that Rhule will likely import from Baylor should put a certain level of shine on Bridgewater’s skill set. Having McCaffery in the backfield and tons of speed at wide receiver couldn’t hurt either. The only notable loss on the offensive side for Carolina would be Greg Olsen, which is a big hit, but now in the decline of his career he likely wouldn’t have fit well in the spread attack Rhule will probably import.
The Panthers lost a ton of defensive players in free agency and through release. The defense will likely have a very different look at the start of the season compared to last year. It appears the Panthers have decided that building defense through the draft is the way to go picking up Derrick Brown from Auburn and Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State. The rest of the draft was littered with defensive backs, including Jeremy Chin from Illinois. The Panthers may not be back to top tier performance this season, but the plan to get there within a season or two is looking bright.
We expect the Panthers to be a middle of the road team that is only held back due to growing pains. Eventually this team is shaping up to be something beautiful. Keep an eye out in a year or so for them, until then we are thinking 7-9 or so.
#4.) TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
There is a strong chance all of the air has left the room when you read that we have Tampa finishing in the last position of the NFC South. We just aren’t sold. The team is definitely a different looking team than they were last year, but in a shocking prediction, we expect them to be worse.
Tampa’s offense on paper is one of the best in the league. They have who many consider the best quarterback of all-time, Tom Brady. Then they have two amazing receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Finally, two very solid TE’s with Rob Gronkowski finessing his way to Tampa and O.J. Howard. The expectations are high as this is likely the best offense Tom Brady has ever been surrounded by. Ultimately however, we aren’t sold. Our expectations are for Brady to struggle outside of New England.
Defensively the Bucs signed veterans to get them through, picking up Ndamukong Suh and Jason Pierre-Paul. They also made sure not to lose Shaquille Barrett by placing the franchise tag on him. The defense should be decent from a talent perspective, but won’t exactly set the world on fire.
The Bucs are our pick for a last place finish, despite having an offense that everyone is excited about. The Bucs are going to be bad for years to come in fact, as most of their best talent right now is going to be either significantly aged, or coming off of their rookie deals. Poor Bucs fans.
WHAT ARE YOUR NFC SOUTH EXPECTATIONS?
What do you think is going to happen in the NFC South for the 2020 season? Let us know in the comments below. Do you agree with or dislike our assessment of your team in this division? Again, let us know.
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