Separation Anxiety – 2023 NFC South Preview

Ab Stanley

The NFC South was a division won by a single game last year and it should be just as close this season. All four teams will start the season with a quarterback that didn’t start the season for them last season, not to mention a whole heap of roster changes.

With all the teams breaking in new faces all over the field, the winner will probably be the team that builds continuity the fastest.


 Atlanta Falcons

Record in 2022: 7-10

Key Player: Safety – Jessie Bates

Player To Watch: Running Back – Bijan Robinson

A team that finished third in rushing yards is looking for the top spot this season. With the addition of running back Bijan Robinson to the incumbent thousand yards rusher Tyler Allgerier, the Falcons rushing attack could possibly be unstoppable.

Second year quarterback Desmond Ridder will get the nod at quarterback and should be better (way better) than Marcus Mariota was last season. Tight end Kyle Pitts should see more action split out wide, and combined with Drake London they will form a hard to defend receiving core.

A team that finished second to last in sacks last year made some upgrades in the pass rushing department. Veterans up front like Calais Campbell, Bud Dupree and (surprisingly) rookie Zach Harrison should help improve those numbers.

Their big free agent acquisition Jesse Bates and a trade for former first round pick Jeff Okudah should vastly improve a secondary that allowed 26 touchdowns through the air in 2022. Atlanta has all the tools to make the playoffs Prediction: 9-8


Carolina Panthers

Record in 2022: 7-10

Key Player: Quarterback – Bryce Young

Player To Watch: Wide Receiver – Jonathan Mingo

The new look Panthers feature a bunch of veterans and some key rookies. Top overall pick Bryce Young leads an offense that features veterans Adam Thielen, D.J. Chark, Hayden Hurst and fellow rookie Jonathan Mingo.

Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard should provide a steady rushing attack. Can the offensive line hold up to help Young develop and help the backfield gain chunks of yards?

The defense is heavy on the veteran side and features a few guys looking to revive their careers. Brian Burns and Shaq Thompson lead a  formidable linebacking unit.

Cornerback Jaycee Horn is coming off of injury, but looks ready to contribute. Safeties Eric Rowe and Xavier Woods should add some veteran savvy to the secondary. Carolina will have some growing pains and it could be a rocky season. Prediction: 5-12


New Orleans Saints

Record in 2022: 7-10

Key Player: Defensive End – Cameron Jordan

Player To Watch: Cornerback – Alontae Davis

The Saints’ defense might be the most underrated unit in all of the NFL. Cameron Jordan leads an extremely talented unit that can wreak havoc up front. Linebackers Pete Werner and Pro-Bowler Demario Davis are both tackling machines.

The Saints are hoping Marshon Lattimore can return to form after an injury kept him out most of last season. They’re also hoping cornerback Alontae Davis can mature into a better playmaker to go along with ball hawk Tyrann Mathieu.

Derek Carr takes over the offense after being jettisoned from Las Vegas. He will have a pair of top notch (former Ohio State Buckeyes) wideouts Michael Thomas and Chris Olave to catch plenty of passes. The return of longtime veteran Jimmy Graham could provide some touchdown plays even in limited action.

Alvin Kamara suspension will hurt the team, but they should be grateful it’s only three games. The Saints bought in Jamal Williams from Denver to help soften the blow early on in the backfield and provide some relief after Kamara’s return.

New Orleans could very well be the team to beat in the division.  Prediction: 9-8


 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record in 2022: 8-9

Key Player: Wide Receiver – Mike Evans

Player To Watch: Safety – Ryan Neal

The Buccaneers make a major transition from the likes of Tom Brady and Leonard Fournette to Baker Mayfield and Rachaad White. The Buccaneers need Mayfield to get back to the production he had from the 2020 season if they want to repeat as division champions.

Veteran wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are joined by (exciting) rookie Trey Palmer. This should be a formidable receiving unit and they have a good offensive line to keep Mayfield upright.

Tampa Bay’s defense is still stout and should keep them competitive all season. Lavonte David, Devin White and Shaquil Barrett make up one of the best mid-level defensive units in the NFL.

Defensive backs Antoine Winfield Jr. And newcomer Ryan Neal should make some plays in the secondary. The Bucs will have a hard time racking up wins against their overall schedule, but they still play in a winnable division.  Prediction: 6-11

Ab Stanley

Atlanta, GA

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