The NFC South is the one division where, literally, anyone can be on top of their rivals at any given year. In Fact, from 2003-2009, the team to finish last in the division finished first the following year.
The Atlanta Falcons won the division last year(13-3) behind QB Matt Ryan, who received a five year $140 million extension this summer. Atlanta talked future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez out of retirement and also made some other offseason moves to put themselves in prime position once again to reach the NFC Championship. They let running back Michael Turner and pass rusher John Abraham walk as free agents, while acquiring ProBowl running back Steven Jackson as well as a Super Bowl Champion Pass Rusher in Osi Umenyiora. Will this put them over the hump?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished fourth in the division last year but saw some promising progression. QB Josh Freeman has been called inconsistent throughout this point of his career. Last year Tampa added WR Vincent Jackson to their team and it paid off as the duo combined for over 1300 yards in their debut season together. While Super Bowl Champ Ronde Barber finally called it quits, the Bucs rebounded making big time off season splashes. Tampa signed free agent, hard hitting, Safety Dashon Goldson and traded for arguably the best Corner in the NFL, Darrelle Revis. Buccaneers have the best defensive backfield in the league, at least on paper. Will it result in wins?
The Carolina Panthers started off horribly with a 3-9 record last season, but finished the 2012 season winning their last four games to finish second in the NFC South(7-9). 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton is set to begin his third NFL season with new General Manager Dave Gettleman who’s message to his Quarterback is simply “It’s time to win.” Carolina didn’t have much money to spend this offseason because of so much money paid to their running backs Deangelo Williams, Jonathan Stewert and Mike Tolbert. They still managed to acquire Ted Ginn Jr on the offensive side of the ball and defensively stepped up tremendously. Panthers added CB Drayton Florence, LB Chase Blackburn and drafted Utah’s Star Lotulelei and Purdue’s Kawann Short, both who are defensive tackles. Will this defensive line cause havoc? Will Cam generate more wins?
The New Orleans Saints had the most media attention last offseason as they were dealing with the Bounty Gate scandal. The 2010 Super Bowl Champs lost their Head Coach, Sean Payton for the entire year and it showed. After starting 0-4 last year it didn’t seem QB Drew Brees couldn’t be great enough to pull his team out of such a hole and lead them back to the post season. That was correct. Brees threw for over 5,000 yards and 43 Touchdowns which continues to establish him as an elite. But the Saint’s defense ranked last in overall yards given up. You can’t win football games like that. Payton is back, Brees is Back, Jimmy Graham is only getting better. How will this go in 2013?