By: Kenneth Harrison
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Free agency and the NFL Draft have already taken place so we have an idea of what each roster will look like.
The NFC South has received a lot of attention with the arrival of Tom Brady to Tampa. Let’s take a look around the division and make some predictions.
Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers made the biggest splash in free agency by signing Tom Brady. They also traded for his former retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
They drafted Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round. Wirfs played 10 games at right tackle and three at left tackle last season. He was named an All-American and he should be able to help protect Brady.
Tampa Bay ranked 25th in total defense and they probably will struggle again in 2020.
The Bucs have received a lot of hype this off season. I don’t think they can live up to it. Brady will turn 43 in August and he’s going in to his 20th season.
Think back to Peyton Manning’s final season when his play drastically deteriorated. I think age and attrition will hamper Brady. The Bucs will win 8-9 games, but they will not be legitimate contenders.
Carolina: The Panthers got rid of their franchise quarterback Cam Newton and signed Teddy Bridgewater.
They are led by All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey. He’s really the only weapon on offense and they lack a talented wide receiver.
Carolina used all seven draft picks on defensive players. They did struggle defensively in 2019, ranking 31st in total defense. They gave up 28.8 points per game.
The best-case scenario would be for three or four of the players they drafted to step in and contribute immediately. That would mean they have young players making mistakes but gaining experience. The Panthers will win 4-5 games.
Atlanta: They were a tough team to figure out last season. The Falcons were bad, but they beat New Orleans and San Francisco, two of the best teams in the NFC.
They drafted two offensive linemen in the first round of the 2019 draft but they both dealt with injuries. Protecting Matt Ryan has been a recurring issue. If that can get solved, they might have one of the most potent offenses in the NFL. They still were fifth in total offense.
The running game struggled last year, and it was addressed by signing running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has dealt with a knee injury that has decreased his play significantly.
They ranked 20th in total defense. Dan Quinn’s job is on the line and I think he will be fired. Atlanta should win 7-8 games.
New Orleans: The Saints were 13-3 in 2019. They were one of the best teams in the league and they return many players from that team.
Future Hall of Fame QB Drew Brees sustained a torn ligament to his right thumb that caused him to miss five weeks. He’s also 41 years old so his window to win another Super Bowl is closing.
The offense has playmakers like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas that defenses have to plan for. They ranked ninth in total offense and 15th in total defense.
They will win 10-11 games. New Orleans has to hope they don’t play the Vikings in the playoffs and they will have a chance to get to the Super Bowl.