Season Preview NFC South
Last season the Carolina Panthers won the NFC South with dominant defense and the emergence of Cam Newton as a superstar. The Panthers look to win the division again in 2014 but it will be harder. The Saints will be tough as always; and the Falcons and Buccaneers will be better. The division will not be easily won, but it should be fun to watch.
Carolina has had an active offseason to say the least. It started by releasing their fan favorite receiver, Steve Smith. The Panthers then added Jericho Cotchery, Jason Avant and drafted Kelvin Benjamin at wide receiver. The Panthers big question: do they have enough star power around cam Newton? There is no questioning the defense, as it could be even better in 2014.
The Saints are opposites to Carolina; which makes for two intriguing showdowns each season. The Saints offense is never the problem. Quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Peyton have an incredible chemistry that is demonstrated on the field. The Saints big question is always their defense. It had seemed at times in 2013 Rob Ryan had fixed the defense. However there were also times when the Saints defense was exposed as fools gold. The Saints made a big move to truly fix their defensive woes by singing Jairus Byrd an elite free safety. They also signed veteran cornerback Champ Bailey.
New Orleans will be good. They will be in it to win it-in terms of battling for the division championship. Drew Brees will put up mega numbers as he always does. Jimmy Graham and Marquise Colston are a dynamic duo. Kenny Stills has emerged as a deep threat and first round slot receiver Brandin Cooks is an good addition. The Saints traded Darren Sproles to the Eagles. Sproles was very productive as Sean Peyton creatively found ways to get him the ball. The Saints running game should be solid enough however.
The Buccaneers also have a lot of fire power offensively. Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and Austin Seffarian-Jenkins are big bodied weapons who can go get the jump balls. Doug Martin should be back to his dominating ways and Charles Simms is the perfect complement. Lovie Smith is a defensive guru and he will bring the Tampa 2 back to Tampa. The Buccaneers will be fine on defense. They have talent all around the offense. The question is can Josh McCown, a career back up, deliver the mail successfully? Can Mike Glennon do the job if McCown fails? Tampa Bay could be a surprise team of 2014, but they need good quarterback play. Without it they are SOL in the NFC South.
Atlanta had a miserable 2013. A year after falling 1 game short of the Super Bowl, they found themselves with the 6th pick of the NFL draft. The Falcons have focused on their defense this offseason. Jonathan Babineaux, Paul Soliai and rookie Ra’Shede Hageman will beef up their defensive front. Atlanta still could use another pass rusher, and needs to find a Tony Gonzales replacement at tight end. The Falcons have plenty offensive fire power and should have a better season.
New Orleans 10-6
Tampa Bay 7-9