The NFC south is a division filled with offensive talent. Funny enough, the defensive talent usually determines the winner of this division. The year will be ripe with highlight touchdown passes, big time runs and shifty moves that will knock your socks off. Ultimately, the team that can stop those offenses might come out on top.
Record In 2018: 7-9
Key Player: Running back – Devonta Freeman
Player to Watch: Defensive End – Takkarist McKinley
The Falcons suffered their first losing season under head coach Dan Quinn in 2018. They drafted a pair of offensive lineman in the first round to better protect Matt Ryan. The passing game is full of talent, highlighted by All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones as well as second year player Calvin Ridley.
The run game will have to produce more after a bottom five finish in yards last season. Devonta Freeman returns after only playing two games last season. The Falcons have a slew of running backs fighting for the newly vacated backup role in case Freeman’s injury problems continue.
The defense was ravaged by injuries last season and will be looking for a bounce back year. They get a much needed boost with the return of linebacker Deion Jones and safety Keanu Neal.
They will need to provide more of a pass rush from their front four. Vic Beasley, Takkarist McKinle and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett need to get after the quarterback a bit more this season. Prediction: 9-7
Record In 2018: 7-9
Key Player: Safety – Eric Reid
Player to Watch: Wide Receiver – D.J. Moore
With Cam Newton coming off of shoulder surgery, the Panthers really don’t know how healthy he is. They will have to rely heavily on Christian McCaffrey both in the run and passing games. They need wide receiver D.J. Moore to take another step in his development, with top target Greg Olsen getting long in the tooth.
The defense, headed by linebacker Luke Kuechly, will need to improve. They’ve done a pretty good job versus the run but teams have found holes in the passing pass defense. Safety Eric Reid will have to solidify a secondary that is relatively inexperienced. Prediction: 8-8
New Orleans Saints
Record In 2018: 11-5
Key Player: Cornerback Marshon Lattimore
Player to Watch: Running back Latavius Murray
The Saints were a bad call away from making the Super Bowl. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas return for another year of high powered offense.
Newly acquired running back Latavius Murray was brought in to flank Kamara in the backfield. With Kamara possibly getting the work load, Murray’s ability to get tough yardage and catch out the backfield will make Mark Ingram’s departure painless.
The defense will have a ton to prove especially in the middle. The linebackers will need to make more plays in coverage but the front seven has been good against the run.
They have a talented secondary led by Marshon Lattimore and Eli Apple. To keep up with the offense, all levels of the defense needs to improve. Prediction: 11-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Record In 2018: 5-11
Key Player: Linebacker- Devin White
Player to Watch: Defensive Tackle – Ndamukong Suh
The Buccaneers will go as far as quarterback Jameis Winston will take them. This year there’s no controversy, there’s no backup to switch to mid-game, it’s Winston or nothing.
The offense has a few weapons with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. The rushing attack will have to find an identity and keep defenses honest.
Devin White was drafted to be the Bucs savior on defense. White will not only provide some much needed talent but a signal caller to organize a mixed up bunch. The addition of Ndamukong Suh should help in the run game and with the pass rush.
Outside of Vernon Hargreaves, the secondary is inexperienced and very young. Prediction: 7-9