NFL Preview: NFC SouthPublished 2:14pm Thursday, September 2, 2010
1) New Orleans Saints: 12-4
Likes: They didn’t really lose anything, added through the draft so now the secondary is deeper than last year. Keep an eye on Reggie Bush, who seems to be running genuinely hard; he was their goal line back in the preseason, and fared well.
Dislikes: The post Super Bowl letdown. Every team has some form of it. I can see the Saints being too satisfied this season and letting a couple teams beat them that shouldn’t.
Overall: They still have Drew Brees and the plays are being called by Sean Payton. That’s at least 10 wins on its own.
2) Carolina Panthers: 10-6
Likes: The Panthers are my sleeper this year. Their running game is destructive; DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart on separate teams would rush for 1,500 yards, they will break 2100 together for sure. Matt Moore is better than he gets credit for, and they have some overachiever potential on defense following the loss of locker room cancer Julius Peppers.
Dislikes: I could be completely wrong about them this season. Matt Moore could be a one season fluke, they panic and put in Jimmy Clausen who has subsequent growing pains, and both running backs get hurt again. Also the defensive line could also be pretty inept without Peppers, who after all was a Pro Bowler.
Overall: The biggest boom or bust team in the NFC in my opinion, but I think they have big time sleeper potential.
3) Atlanta Falcons: 8-8
Likes: Michael Turner is back and healthy, as is last year’s first round pick Defensive Tackle Perria Jerry who missed all of last season. The no name offensive line is also pretty good, led by Guard Harvey Dahl.
Dislikes: There’s one reason I think the Falcons underachieve this year: Michael Turner has been overused. His injuries last year were a result of the pounding he took on 274 carries in 2008. If the Falcons are smart, they will do some serious rotating with backups Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling.
Overall: Their record could definitely flip flop with the Panthers and I wouldn’t be surprised, because Matt Ryan is still an efficient Quarterback and I could be wrong about Turner.
4) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-11
Likes: QB Josh Freeman seems like the second coming of Dante Culpepper and rookie wide outs Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn will probably start the season.
Dislikes: All three of those guys are under 25 and have a combined 1 year of experience. They are also the teams most viable offensive options (sorry Cadillac Williams). Same story on D with stud rookie DT’s Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. This is a recipe for some serious turnovers and miscues.
Overall: The Bucs will be destructive…except it will be in 2012, when all of their young talent matures a little.