NFC South: The Best Division In Football?
Written By: NewBetterBucs07
Coming into the 2008 season, the NFC South was thought of as one of the weakest divisions in the NFL. No one feared any team in the NFC South. No one thought that there would be a Wild Card coming from it and the division winner would be one and done. The NFC South proved everyone wrong.
The NFC South was the best division in the NFL last year. They produced 2 playoff teams, had the best winning percentage of all the divisions, and had no teams below .500. The Panthers played great football the entire season and won the division with a 12-4 record. Because of their success, they got a 1st round bye in the playoffs. The Falcons came in 2nd with an 11-5 record, and shocked everyone. Most people had them as a top 5 pick in next year’s draft, but Matt Ryan turned the team around and got them the 1st Wild Card spot in the NFC. The Bucs finished in 3rd with a 9-7 record and ended the season on a horrible note. They were 9-3 going into week 13 and then got ran all over on MNF by the Panthers two-headed monster. The defense fell apart starting at that game and because of it, the Bucs missed the playoffs. The Saints finished in last with an 8-8 record and did not live up to their expectations. A lot of people had the Saints winning the NFC South because of their potent offense, but their defense just couldn’t play well enough.
NFC South teams had busy off-seasons. The Bucs had the busiest of them all. After their collapse to the end of the season, the Bucs lost Monte Kiffin because he wanted to go coach with his son, Lane, at the University of Tennessee. A few weeks after that, the Bucs fired Head Coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen. The Bucs also cut many veterans like Derrick Brooks, Joey Galloway, Ike Hilliard, and Cato June. Even though they did lose a lot, the Bucs also go some big names in the off-season, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Bucs traded for one of the elite TE’s in the game in Kellen Winslow. The Bucs also signed Derrick Ward who had a solid year with the Giants splitting carries with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. In the draft, the Bucs got Josh Freeman in the 1st round. Many people didn’t think he’d start right away, but right now the spot is open and he still has a good shot. The Bucs also did switch up a little defensively by signing Angelo Crowell and switching Jermaine Phillips from Safety to LB. Sabby Piscitelli will be replacing him at Safety.
The Falcons also had a busy off-season. They got rid of some veterans just like the Bucs did. They got rid of long time Falcon LB Keith Brooking, and safety Lawyer Milloy. The Falcons did replace Brooking with former Jags LB, Mike Peterson. Peterson is a solid LB and was a big part to the success Jacksonville’s defense had when he was there. The Falcons also made one of the biggest trades of the off-season by trading for Tony Gonzalez. This was an excellent move for the Falcons. Gonzalez is one of the best TE’s to ever play in the NFL and will give Matt Ryan another big target to throw to. He will really help out Matt Ryan and make the rest of the offense better. In the draft, the Falcons got Peria Jerry in the 1st round, who was the 2nd best DT in the draft.
The Saints didn’t do too much this off-season. They did, however, focus on improving their defense which was the weak link to their team last year. The Saints did this by bringing in a new defensive mind with Gregg Williams. Williams is thought of as a great DC and should help out the Saints defense. The Saints also improved their secondary over the off-season. They brought in CB, Jabari Greer, and drafted CB, Malcom Jenkins, out of OSU. These 2 players are solid additions and should help the Saints against the pass.
The Panthers had a very quiet off-season. Many thought that Julius Peppers wouldn’t be in a Panthers uniform after the draft, but he has in fact stayed with the Panthers. The Panthers won the NFC South last year, and obviously did not think that they needed to make many moves to contend for the division this year.
With all of these off-season moves, I see the NFC South finishing out differently. This is how I see it panning out:
1. Atlanta Falcons 10-6
2. New Orleans Saints 10-6
3. Carolina Panthers 9-7
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-10