2016 NFC South Preview

Raphael Haynes
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The NFC South was not close at all last year. As a matter of fact, it was basically a race for second. With Carolina starting 15-0 and going 5-1in the division, you would think that it’s possible that they can repeat the dominance this year. In saying that, the south should be more competitive just based off of more experience and familiarity that will take place in the teams within the division.


 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

Record in 2015: 6-10

Key Player: Running Back- Doug Martin/Quarterback- Jameis Winston

Player To Watch: Cornerback- Brent Grimes

Outlook: Second year QB Jameis Winston didn’t disappoint last season. He and Doug Martin (2nd in rushing) will look to balance an offensive attack that racked up the 5th most yards a year ago. The defense also looks to improve but have a huge road ahead after giving up over 26 points per game. Brett Grimes will look to resume his role as a shut down corner. A defense that looked porous at times will have its work cut out for them in a division with all QBs throwing for 4,000 yards or better. Prediction: 7-9


 New Orleans Saints 7-9

Record in 2015: 7-9

Key Player: Quarterback- Drew Brees

Player To Watch: Linebacker- Stephone Anthony

Outlook: The Saints come on with not much to brag about. It seems they won a bunch of games despite themselves last year. Drew Brees is about all you can get excited for in “Who Dat land”. The old vet completed yet another season where he eclipsed 4,500 yards which he seems to do at will. How many more seasons will they be able to rely on him. The defense was best described as tragic last season finishing dead last in points against (29.8). Rookie linebacker Stephone Anthony along with others should improve that mark because well, there’s no way but up. Prediction: 4-12


atlanta_falcons_logo_small Atlanta Falcons 

Record in 2015: 8-8

Key Player: Wide Receiver- Julio Jones

Player To Watch: Center- Alex Mac

Outlook: The Falcons come in sporting one of the best offenses in the game. They finished last season in the top seven in both rushing and passing yards per game. The big question is can an offensive line led by newly acquired center Alex Mack keep Matt Ryan upright. Can their defense catch up is another. First round pick safety Keanu Neal is head coach Dan Quinn’s dirty south version of Cam Chancellor. Can he set the tone on a defense that’s still trying to find itself? Can they improve on a pass rush that looked non existent at times (Dwight Freeney should help)? The Falcons have made improvements on both sides of the ball on paper let’s see if it translates on the field. Prediction: 9-7


 Carolina Panthers

Record in 2015: 15-1

Key Player: Quarterback- Cam Newton

Player To Watch: Carolina Secondary

Outlook: The cream of the crop in the NFC, Carolina beat every single opponent they played in the regular season (including Atlanta, their only loss) on their way to being the Super Bowl runner up. Cam Newton may not be dabbing this year but all signs lead to him scoring TDs (45 total) at will again this season. The return of his big target Kelvin Benjamin should help him keep that number or (even more scary) improve upon it. The defense put on its best effort last season as well. Luke Kuechly and company look to stifle opponents and stay in the top tier (sixth in yards against) of defenses again this season. The loss of All-Pro Josh Norman will be a setback however. How will the Carolina secondary respond to the challenge as a unit? Prediction: 11-5

Raphael Haynes

Atlanta, GA

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