From the Big Easy to the ATL, and from the Carolinas to Champa Bay, the NFC South is without question, the most intriguing and unpredictable division in the NFL. The only division to have all four teams appear in the Super Bowl once, as well one of the few where each team has won the division at least three times.
From 2007-2010, each team won the NFC South in consecutive years, Tampa Bay (2007), Carolina (2008), New Orleans (2009) and Atlanta (2010). Thanks to winning the NFC South last season, the Saints became the first club to win the division for straight times—including the most with seven.
That being said, no more Drew Brees down in the Crescent City as the former Super Bowl XLVII MVP will be taking his talents to the NBC SNF booth, with former Heisman Trophy and national champion Jameis Winston set to take his place. Down in Tampa, you have a very hungry and motivated Tom Brady and a defending Super Bowl champion returning 22 starters.
In Atlanta, you have an aging Matt Ryan sans Julio Jones hoping to keep up with Calvin Ridley and rookie TE Kyle Pitts hoping to keep up. Finally, in Carolina, you have former first-round QB Sam Darnold hoping to revive his still young NFL career under second-year head coach Matt Rhule.
As they say in the Land of Dixie, it’s time for some King Football, y’all!
New Orleans Saints: From Drew Brees to Jameis Winston? Yup! It’s quite a fall for the four-time defending South champs in 2021. This is no slight against the former Florida State standout, but Winston isn’t Brees. And believe me, due to my recent time and travels down to NOLA, Who Dat Nation will not let him forget it, especially if he fails to win.
I know it’s a bit unfair to be the guy to succeed a legend, but two things I learned down in New Orleans is that Brees is the second coming of God, and former LSU Tiger and current Cincinnati Bengals QB Joe Burrow is Jesus Christ.
Yeah, it’s like THAT in the 504!
While Sean Payton is still calling plays and will try to put Winston in the best spots possible to win, Winston is one bad series away from being yanked for Taysom Hill. You also have a unhappy Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara to give Winston some weapons, but its safe to say that its gonna be a long year down in Cajun country!
Projected record: 9-8
Atlanta Falcons: No Julio Jones, a soon-to-be 36-year-old Matt Ryan, a rookie tight end in Kyle Pitts and a first-time head coach in Arthur Smith. Yeah, things are really gonna be popping down in the ATL.
With Jones now in Tennessee, third-year WR Calvin Ridley is expected to emerge into the new No.1 for Matty Ice. There are some big cleats to fill in Atlanta and could the former Alabama star, only with arguably the most talented tight end prospect to come into the NFL in years in Pitts be enough to replace Jones’ production.
On defense, the Falcons are led by Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and A.J. Terrell which will need to really ball out in hopes of stopping the likes of Tom Brady twice a tear.
Projected record: 10-7
Carolina Panthers: If there is anyone who deserves a mulligan and do-over in the NFL, it is Sam Darnold.
Chosen third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft out of USC, it’s fair to say that Darnold got a raw deal in New York. While the Jets have always been a proverbial dumpster fire, having to deal with Adam Gase as your first NFL head coach, and the constant limelight of playing in the largest media market and lofty expectations, was a no-win situation for him.
Now down in Charlotte, Darnold has a chance to get his NFL career back on track with a more-gifted offensive-minded head coach in Matt Rhule, a talented all-purpose threat in Christian McCaffrey and wideouts such as DJ Moore, Robby Anderson and potential rookie breakout stars in WR Terrace Marshall Jr. and former Oklahoma State Cowboys RB Chuba Hubbard, don’t sleep on the Panthers being a problem on offense in 2021.
On defense, Carolina could look to give opposing teams some issues thanks to Shaq Thompson, former Arizona Cardinals LB Haason Reddick—who was coached by Rhule in Philla at Temple—edge rusher Morgan Fox and second-year rusher Yetur Gross-Matos makes the Panthers a sleeper team to look out for in the South.
Projected record: 11-6
Brady, who has manged to fight Father Time to a draw in turning 44, is prmed and ready to extending his own record of Super Bowl wins to eight, thanks to 22 starters from last season’s SB title team with a full season in Bruce Arian’s system under his belt.
To say that the Bucs have an embarrassment of riches, is more than just a play on their team’s nickname, but a bounty of fact, as this Bucs team—from top to bottom—looks locked in and focused to show that last season wasn’t a fluke.
And if there is anything that NFL fans have learned in watching Brady over the last two decades is to NEVER bet against the G.O.A.T.—especially when he has a chip on his shoulder. Let’s just say that there will be a lot of hate-watching this season of Brady and the Buccaneers, especially when TB12 makes his return to Foxboro to face The Hood in Week 3.
Expect record ratings, some veiled shots and a lot of call offs on Monday, as America will be tuning in and here for it!
Perhaps the biggest threat to Tampa Bay—other than Kansas City—is fellow NFC title hopefuls in the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers. While the Packers could get a chance to get back at Tampa Bay in the post-season, the Rams defense—most notably Aaron Donald—and the equally brilliant Sean McVay with a reborn Matthew Stafford could prove to be formidable.
Until proven otherwise, always roll with The Brady Method, as TB12 will be hard to beat.
Projected Record: 14-3