NFC SOUTH PREVIEW
How they’ll finish:
Carolina: Carolina is a lot like Jacksonville. They really don’t have much going for them besides DeAngelo Williams. They have a future in Jimmy Clausen at quarterback but he’s not ready to be a momentum changer in Carolina yet. The receiving corp is thinning out. Steve Smith is still a staple but will old age and coming off a broken an arm affect the already struggling passing game? DeAngelo Williams will be a running machine the first half of the season but will he be able to keep that motor running the entire season? Carolina’s defense will have to step up with one of their cornerstones and defensive stats leader gone off to Chi-town and a farily weak secondary behind the unproven front seven. (5-11)
A rising young team. I like Matt Ryan being a leader for this team. He has the arm to throw it down field to Roddy White, smart enough to check down to Tony Gonzalez or Michael Turner. Injuries to key players kept them out of the playoffs but I think with a healthy offensive core like this they should be fine to be in the playoffs once again. Michael Turner lost weight which should increase his durability down the season stretch. Falcon’s defense is solid as well. A stout run defense paired with a fair pass defense. I think Atlanta will be the competition for New Orleans in the south. (11-5)
Reigning Super Bowl champs. They look like they’re ready to play as if the Super Bowl was last week. Offense, Defense, Special Teams, the look like they’re clicking on all cylinders. Drew Brees will have to fight against the dreaded “Madden curse” because he was on the cover of this years Madden Football videogame. Nothing more, nothing less. Definite playoff perhaps return to the Super Bowl. (13-3)
Tampa Bay’s rebuilding, but they’re rebuilding in the right way. Here and there. They’re working on a franchise quarterback with Josh Freeman. Drafting an anchor with a defensive tackle first round of the draft. They’re a young team with a 2nd year coach. They have one of the more athletic yet older defensive backs unit. Talib with the talent and Barber with the experience.
Who To Watch For:
Carolina: Jimmy Clausen. When will he step up and take the dying flame from Matt Moore who isn’t ready to bring this team to life.
Atlanta: Matt Ryan. He took Atlanta to the playoffs his rookie year, had a bum foot last year, can he shake off the injury and lead this team back to the playoffs?
New Orleans: Drew Brees. Will he beat the Madden curse and live up to the status he’s receiving now that he’s a Super Bowl champion?
Tampa Bay: Carnell Williams. Can he stay healthy and anchor the running game?
Who Will Disappoint:
Carolina: Matt Moore. He doesn’t quite get it yet…
Atlanta: Michael Turner. He was a fast big running back. Now he’s a fast smaller running back. He’s been a big back for most of his career. Will he try to still run through people and realize he can’t anymore?
Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay’s Defense. They aren’t ready to handle the powerful offenses from their division rivals.
New Orleans: Reggie Bush. We can see what public personal problems can do to an athlete (see Tiger Woods). Wins taken away, his trophy is on its way out his front door, and now his alma mater’s college football is playing for nothing, it’s a lot on a young man’s mind. Then there’s the lady problems…