2019 NFL Predictions: NFC South

It seems like so long ago that the New England Patriots won yet another Super Bowl, but nonetheless, we are all ready for this next season to start. The NFC South has four distinct stories to tell. One of the New Orleans Saints aiming for the Super Bowl, the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers trying to recover from poor seasons and if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can turn some magic into success. Last season was somewhat of a let down since this division was promised to be one of the more competitive ones and in reality, the one one the Saints had to compete was themselves. But hopefully, this season won’t be the case, and perhaps more than one team from this division can make the playoffs?

0 Atlanta Falcons Julio Jones – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Leonard Johnson” by Jack Kurzenknabe is licensed under Public Domain

New Orleans Saints

Last season’s record: 13-3

Post-season result: Lost (debatably) to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Latavlus Murray (Minnesota Vikings)
  • DT Malcom Brown (New England Patriots)
  • DE Mario Edwards Jr. (New York Giants)
  • TE Jared Cook (Oakland Raiders)
  • DE Wes Horton (Carolina Panthers)

Drafted:

  • WR Emmanuel Butler

Offseason departures: Released S Kurt Coleman, placed C Max Unger on the retired list and waived DB Chris Campbell.

Preview: All eyes this season will be on Running back Alvin Kamara. It’s highly unlikely that the New Orleans Saints won’t finish first in the NFC South again and the Saints may be NFC favorites for the Super Bowl. Last season’s 883 yards, resulting in 14 touchdowns, took the league by storm. Along with Kamara, the Saints will look to stick with nearly the same team as last season. Saints’ fans will pray that their team doesn’t become plagued with injuries. The Saints did waive most of their draft picks, but those who were retained have shined through in preseason thus far. Even in defense, Marson Lattimore made a name for himself against the New Jersey Jets, forcing a turnover on the 30-yard line. The Saints, last season, ended games really well, but started quite slowly, and if this season, they’re likely to face tougher competition in their conference, can the Saints score more in the first half? 

Prediction: 13-1-2

Carolina Panthers

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (sorry Cam Newton)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • DE Bruce Irvin (Falcons)
  • WR Chris Hogan (Patriots)
  • WR Aldrick Robinson (Minnesota Vikings)
  • RB Javelin Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
  • LS Andrew DePaola (Oakland Raiders)

Drafted:

  • LB Brian Burns
  • QB Will Grier.

Offseason departures: Released LB Ben Jacobs,  CB Captain Munnerlyn, T Matt Khalil, S Da’Norris Searcy and Waived T Isaiah Battle, G Brendan Mahon andTE Ethan Wolf.

Preview: The Carolina Panthers have been very active in the transfer window and have a lot of work to do if they want to make the playoffs this season. Actually, as long as QB Newton doesn’t get injured, it should happen. With Newton, last season, the Panthers started 6-2, a franchise record. The Panthers have bought well and hopefully, a backup in Greir can prove fruitful to Carolina. However, I feel like the Panthers didn’t work on their defense as much as they did their offense and I wonder if that will cost them. The Panthers’ biggest competition would be a fully-fit Falcons team in competing for that second-place spot. Can the Panthers offense beat the Falcons to second or will their defense hold them back?

Prediction: 9-7

Atlanta Falcons

Last season’s record: 7-9

Post-season result: Didn’t qualify for playoffs (everything kinda went wrong from the start)

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • RB Kenjon Barner (Patriots)
  • DT Stefan Charles (San Antonio Commanders)
  • TE Thomas Durate (Los Angeles Chargers)
  • K Blair Walsh (Seattle Seahawks)

Drafted:

  • OT Kaleb McGary
  • RB Tony Brooks James

Offseason departures: Waived DE Brooks Reed, T Ryan Schraeder, CB Rashad Causey, S Jason Thompson, CB Hamp Cheevers, LB Stephone Anthony and OL Tommy Davis.

Preview: Last season, I was quite confident in my prediction that the Atlanta Falcons would make the playoffs, but boy, was I well wrong. Defensive injuries plagued Dan Quinn’s Falcons, but this season, the chances of that happening once again are unlikely, so I’m going to bet the Falcons will have a better season this time around. The likes of Charles in the defense will bring some relief but there are still some concerns regarding this Falcons team, however. Kicker Walsh didn’t have a good day out in practice, missing plenty and the team is still heavily reliant on Julio Jones to win matches. In fact, last season, in the Falcons’ first game and loss against the Philadelphia Eagles, Joel Deering pointed out that there were plenty of times QB Matt Ryan could’ve passed the ball to Mohamad Sanu but only focused on Jones. Therefore, can the Falcons utilize their other offensive options to win games?

Prediction: 8-8

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: 5-11

Post-season result: Hmm…

Offseason acquisitions: 

Signed:

  • LB Deone Bucannon (Arizona Cardinals)
  • Shaquil Barrett (Denver Broncos)
  • G Earl Watford (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • S Kentrell Brice (Green Bay Packers)

Drafted:

  • LB Devin White
  • CB Sean Bunting
  • CB Jamel Dean
  • S Mike Edwards
  • DE Anthony Nelson
  • K Matt Gay
  • WR Scotty Miller
  • DE Terry Beckner,

Signed undrafted free agents:

RB Bruce Anderson, G Zack Bailey, S Lukas Denis, WR Anthony Johnson and DaMarkus Lodge.

Claimed off waivers:

Emanuel Hall (Chicago Bears)

Offseason departures: Released DE Vinny Curry, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick P Bryan Anger and OL Evan Smith and waived QB Joe Callahan, LB Riley Bullough, WR Sergio Bailey, RB Shaun Wilson, TE Donnie Ernsberger, T Riley Mayfield, QB Vincent Testaverde, OLB Dare Odeyingbo, S Micah Abernathy and DL Shane Bowman.

Preview: To be honest, even those five wins last season were miracles. The problem is, there’s only one magician on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team: Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he doesn’t even play for them anymore. The Buccaneers have done a load of transfers, signing plenty of rookies, rebuilding, hoping for the best, but the competition they have in this division is far too established. The Buccaneers can’t really even focus on a playoff spot this season, but should just try to build a solid and promising team from the mass of youngsters they have. Can the Buccaneers put their draft picks and signings to use and put on some promising performances?

Prediction: 4-12

Predicted division standings:

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-1-2)
  2. Carolina Panthers (9-7)
  3. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
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