Saints Projected Winner of NFC South

The most interesting of all divisions in the NFL for 2012 may be the NFC South.  It includes A Super Bowl champ from two seasons ago in the New Orleans Saints.  It includes the favorite for the Super Bowl entering the playoffs last year in the Atlanta Falcons.  Tampa Bay is a former world champ and gathering talent to reach those heights again.  Plus we have the Carolina Panthers who are looking to rebound from last year’s lost season.

  1.  New Orleans Saints – After entering last season as the defending world champs, the Saints suffered through an injury riddled campaign.  Even with those troubles New Orleans finished second to the Falcons and lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Seattle Seahawks.  This year the Saints are back healthy but without Reggie Bush, who has left for Miami.  Still, this team might be the best ever a Saints fan has seen.  Drew Brees is the constant in an offensive juggernaut led by Coach Sean Payton.  The defense will be solid and if this team can escape the injury problems from last year, the Saints will be back on top.  Look for first place in the South and a 12-4 record.
  2. Atlanta Falcons – Can a team actually have a lesser record from the year before but be a better team?  That is a question Mike Smith and his Atlanta Falcons will answer this year.  A season ago the Falcons won this division and brought in the best record in the NFC.  It did them no good as they lost their first playoff game at home to the eventual champs, Green Bay.  But this year the Falcons have a new weapon for quarterback Matt Ryan in Alabama wide out Julio Jones.  He is the deep threat Atlanta has looked for and could catapult them into the Super Bowl.  Even with that, the Falcons will finish behind New Orleans at 10-6.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – What can you say about the youngest team in the NFL?  Except that the youngest team is also one of the most talented for its age.  LeGarrette Blount came out of nowhere last year as an undrafted free agent running back to lead this team in rushing.  And what a future he has in store for himself and the team.   Josh Freeman is an up and coming star at quarterback and is entering a season in which he should be in control of the team and the leader.  As much as this team is amping up for a playoff run, it’s still one year away.  Look for a strong team to finish third behind two great teams with a record of 9-7.
  4. Carolina Panthers – Ron Rivera takes over from John Fox as the new head coach of the Panthers.  Rivera now has the job of improving the worst team in the NFL.  And he will do it with a new quarterback in Cam Newton.  Ideally Newton would have time to learn the position and make himself into the prototype NFL QB.  But that isn’t the case and this is his team.  Any improvements will be welcome as the rebuilding process begins.  Carolina finishes at 4-12.

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