|Should I run for the 1st down, dump it off to Reggie Bush or Pierre Thomas, hit Jeremy Shockey over the middle, or go deep to Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem, or Lance Moore? Decisions, decisions.|
The NFC South is by no means a bad division, but go ahead and pencil it in as the "least-surprising division" in the NFL. None of the teams made any remarkably powerful offseason moves, at least not in the short run. Look for 1-2-3-4 to be identical to last season.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Looking at the Bucs on paper, it doesn't take a genius to see that they aren't very good. But games are won and lost on the field. Unfortunately for Tampa Bay, however, they aren't all that good on the field either. Josh Freeman is the X-factor: if he plays well, the Bucs might win 6 games.
3. Carolina Panthers - The Panthers have arguably the best RB combo in the game, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. But Carolina has a lot of holes elsewhere, most notably at the quarterback position. While Clausen might be good, he won't get it done this year. Give Matt Moore some credit - I expect him to be a solid player. But in a division with the defending Super Bowl champs, he needs to be great. Compound the offensive flaws with the loss of Peppers on D, and the Panthers are staring another 8-8 season in the face.
2. Atlanta Falcons - The Falcons are a good team that didn't get much better. Matt Ryan and Michael Turner both had relative down years from their impressive 2008 campaigns. With skill players like Ryan, Turner, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez, Atlanta is incredibly impressive on paper. Then again, they had the same players last year and they missed the playoffs. The Falcons are a wild card team this year, but still have some work left to do before they can be considered title contenders.
1. New Orleans Saints - The Saints, defending Super Bowls Champions, will once again take first place in the NFC South and, at the very least, make a deep playoff run. They are scary good, with some of the best skill players in the league at every position. The Saints' defense, which had plagued them for years (ever play Madden '07 with New Orleans? Free points for everyone.) finally got better last year. LB Scott Fujita is the most notable loss for New Orleans, but I think the best offense in football won't have any trouble compensating for any potential defensive issues.