I’m going to dive into the NFC South now, yet another division filled with star talent at multiple positions. The bounty that is the New Orleans Saints will continue to cloud over them throughout the 2012 NFL Season, not like they haven’t faced any sort of adversity before though, it’s going to be a tough season without Head Coach Sean Payton at the sidelines. Will the Falcons rebound after that ugly playoff lost to the New York Giants? A star’s about to be born in Atlanta too, his name is Julio Jones. What will Cam Newton do for an encore? Lastly, are we about to see the Bucs take a big step forward with their young team? The addition of Vincent Jackson will definitely open up the passing game. Let’s take a look at who I have winning the NFC South.
|NEW ORLEANS SAINTS||10||6|
|TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS||9||7|
FALCONS : Their off-season acquisition of Asante Samuel is going unnoticed and that is good for them. Falcons will be much improved in the secondary and their attack from the front 4. A stingy defense with what will be a high scoring offense screams perfect mix for a Super Bowl appearance because they also have a 3-headed rushing attack with Turner, Rodgers and Snelling. Falcons will have a surprising week 1 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs but bounce back in a big way and win their next 5 before their bye week. If Matt Ryan continues to progress we’re about to see one potent passing attack with Julio Jones and Roddy White as his WR’s. Potential monster season is expected from Julio and there’s no denying it, Asante and Grimes will handle their cover duties and Akeem Dent will make a “Navorro Bowman-Like” impact at the LB spot alongside rising star Sean Weatherspoon. As long as the Falcons put their embarassing playoff performance behind them, they’ll be in for a great season that could get them a 1st round bye in the playoffs.
SAINTS : No Sean Payton on the sidelines calling all those great offensive plays, how will Brees hold up? I believe Brees will do just fine, it’ll show at times when Payton is missed but overall they’ll continue to play Saints football. They added some new pieces on the defensive side of the ball with Linebacker’s Curtis Lofton, David Hawthorne and Chris Chamberlain who will hold it down until Vilma gets clearance to play. One key to the Saints is getting RB Mark Ingram healthy, it’ll provide a three-headed attack out of the backfield with the speedster Sproles and underrated Pierre Thomas. I got the Saints struggling inside their division in 2012, as they take losses to the Panthers, Bucs and Falcons at least once and they’ll have a big victory against the Eagles at home and get that revenge win against the 49ers in week 12. So as the 2012 season rolls along we’ll see how much of an impact Payton had on this team and whether or not his presence on the sidelines hurts Brees and the Saints or Brees will show everyone we’ll be just fine.
BUCS : The Bucs are entering 2012 as a young team that is on the rise, it’ll have their up and down moments as usual but their going in the right direction. The addition of WR Vincent Jackson in the off-season and TE Dallas Clark only helps Freeman’s improvement in the passing game. Drafting 2 pass catching RB’s in Doug Martin and Michael Smith provides the offense with more firepower as many are thinking Doug Martin is a “Ray Rice Type” Running Back. Their defense is improving, Clayborn taking care of the QB and a LB corps that’ll improve with addition of Lavonte David, also the draft pick of Mark Barron as he’s a ball hawk safety and will provide an immediate impact in 2012. The schedule isn’t that bad as I have them entering their week 5 bye at 3-1 with their lone lost coming to the Giants. They’ll win their home match-ups against their divisional opponents and got them going 1-3 against the AFC West squads with their lone win coming against the Raiders. Their week 14 victory against the Eagles will be bittersweet because they’ll lose to the Saints and Falcons within the next 3 weeks and lose their playoff chances. Better luck next year Tampa Bay, I’m sure you’ll be around to battle for South Crown.
PANTHERS : What will Cam Newton do for an encore? Many think he won’t repeat his 14 rushing touchdowns and that’s a good argument. He’s been improving and has a great work ethic, the running attack and Steve Smith lining up out wide with rising young WR Brandon LaFell will be a lot of weapons for this offense to put up points on the scoreboard. The defense will welcome back Jon Beason as well as welcome incoming rookie Luke Kuechly who is a sound tackler. The defense will still be suspect to Carolina but they have the talent at certain positions, just a couple more tweaks here and there and they’ll be on the better half of the defense list. It’ll still be growing pains for any Carolina fan and their franchise as their not going to get over the hump, yet. I got them beating some quality teams though in 2012, like the Cowboys in week 7, the Saints in week 2 and Cam throws his way to a great game against the solid Seahawks secondary in week 5. Sorry Carolina fans, your team isn’t there just quite yet, but Cam will get em’ there.