Wednesday, September 8, 2010

NFC South Preview

1st Place, New Orleans Saints

Offensive Players:
QB Drew Brees
RB Pierre Thomas
RB Reggie Bush
WR Marques Colston
WR Devery Henderson
TE Jeremy Shockey
RT Jonathan Stinchcomb

Defensive Players:
DE Alex Brown
DE Will Smith
LB Jonathan Vilma
CB Jabari Greer
CB Tracy Porter
FS Derrick Sharper

This is the easiest pick of all division winners this year, even easier than the AFC West. The reigning world champs return an identical offense, and bring in an improved defense as they hope to repeat their super bowl victory of a year ago. They brought in Alex Brown to help generate some more pass rush, and brought Clint Ingram in to help nail down the run. They'll still give up some points on defense, but their D should be a top-15 defense, and with this offense, that would be more than enough. They need to let Pierre Thomas loose, and give him 250 carries (it would probably yield around 1,200 rushing yards if they did that) and allow him and Bush to be on the field together more often. Getting some more consistency out of Jeremy Shockey would be a nice bonus as well.

2nd Place, Atlanta Falcons

Offensive Players:
QB Matt Ryan
RB Michael Turner
WR Roddy White
WR Michael Jenkins
TE Tony Gonzalez

Defensive Players:
DE John Abraham
LB Sean Witherspoon (R)
LB Curtis Lofton
CB Brent Grimes

The Falcons need to improve on defense big time in order to have any shot at making a playoff run. They do have just enough offense, led by solid young signal caller, Matt Ryan and have a punishing running game with Michael Turner. They also have one of the top young wideouts in the game in Roddy White (1,153 yards, 11 TD in '09), and a legend at tight-end in Tony Gonzalez. They have more than enough offense, it's just that defense that needs to hold their end of the deal. They got burned through the air badly last year, and brought in corner Duanta Robinson to team with solid coverman Brent Grimes. Their safeties could use an upgrade though, and they need to get a pass rush from someone besides John Abraham (who will constantly be double teamed).

3rd Place, Carolina Panthers

Offensive Players:
QB Matt Moore
QB Jimmy Clausen (R)
RB DeAngelo Williams
RB Jonathan Stewart
WR Steve Smith
LT Jordan Gross

Defensive Players:
DE Tyler Brayton
LB Jon Beason
CB Chris Gamble
CB Richard Marshall

The Panthers aren't that exciting, but they shouldn't at all be taken lightly. They have a nice offensive line and a dominant running game. They also have a very smart quarterback at the helm right now, although he won't put up prolific numbers. If Matt Moore struggles, or the Panthers aren't winning, they'll likely go to rookie Jimmy Clausen, who's got a bigger arm than Moore. Steve Smith remains their own true receiving threat, but they're hoping rookie Brandan LaFell pays off more than Dewayne Jarrett has. Defensively, they have a nice secondary, but they're going to get run on, and the loss of Julius Peppers will hurt.

4th Place, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Offensive Players:
QB Josh Freeman
RB Cadillac Williams
WR Mike Williams (R)
TE Kellen Winslow
RT Jeremy Trueblood

Defensive Players:
DT Gerald McCoy (R)
DE Stylez White
LB Geno Hayes
LB Barrett Rudd
CB Aqib Talib
CB Rhonde Barber
FS Tanard Jackson
SS Sean Jones

I actually really like the makings of the Bucs D, especially that solid secondary. Their offense though, is a huge question mark. Josh Freeman is coming off a year in which he had a QB rating of under 60, and threw almost 2 times as many picks at touchdowns. The Bucs are hoping he can turn it around and grow, but I don't think he's that great. He also doesn't have a whole lot to work with. Outside of Kellen Winslow, there really isn't a proven threat on the team. I like rookie Mike Williams and fellow rook Arrellious Benn has a heap of talent as well, but they're just too raw right now. Halfback Cadillac Williams should be even better in his second full year back from his surgery, so they do have that to look forward to.

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