Sean's NFC South Preview
Heading to the NFC South. The Saints get their head coach back. The Falcons looks to get over the hump. Carolina looking for a big year from their franchise QB. Tampa Bay hopes free agency is the answer.
1. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS - Saints paid the price last year with their 'bounty-gate' suspensions. Sean Payton is back and his presence alone is good for a 3 game swing in wins. Add in new DC Rob Ryan cut loose from Dallas, and this team is going to be very aggressive on both sides of the ball. Let's be honest, the defense can't be any worse than last year when they gave up a NFL record allowing over seven thousand yards!
2. ATLANTA FALCONS - Tough to put the Falcons here. These guys are a talented bunch. They are obviously in win now mode as they signed a couple veterans they hope can put them over the top in RB Stephan Jackson and DE Osi Umenyiora. Super Bowl or bust is what they are hanging their hats on. The offense is very good and DC Mike Nolan was rewarded as the Falcons drafted a pair of corner-backs with their first two picks. Offensively, these guys can score with anyone in the league. It will come down to how they play against the Saints to see who takes the division. And if HC Mike Smith can get this team over their playoff failures.
3. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - A more hyped up QB resides on the next team, but for Bucs QB Josh Freeman, this is his make or break year. He has been a yo-yo so far in his career. He has a Pro-Bowl RB in Doug Martin, and another in WR Vincent Jackson. No reason he shouldn't take a step forward here. The defense improved with the trade for all-world corner Darrelle Revis. These guys went 7-9 last year and should be as good, maybe better if they get some breaks and the QB position improves some.
4. CAROLINA PANTHERS - Well, Cam Newton doesn't need an introduction. He just needs to improve his consistency. The old sophomore slump hit the QB last year. Mike Shula takes over as OC, and will hope that the youngster can take a step forward this year. The defense is lead by beast LB Luke Kuechly. They also upgraded the DL with their first and second round picks in the draft. They will need the defense big time, as the Panthers have the toughest schedule in the league this year.