Drew Brees, seen here with Alfonso Ribeiro, has become the darling of the NFL over the past few years due to his re-building efforts in New Orleans as well as his Super Bowl championship last season. This year, I see the bon temps continuing to roulez in New Orleans as the Saints take the NFC South running away. The only possible thing that can stop Drew Brees and the Saints is the Madden Curse. And maybe the TPLIYP Curse.
1. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
On offense, the Saints still are very potent with Drew Brees and his deep corps of receivers including Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore. However, I see their offense getting even stronger with the continued progression of Reggie Bush. Reggie still has all of his quickness, but appears to have gotten more physical this year. I see him being a huge factor in the Saints success this year and making their offense even more dangerous.
On defense, the Saints are about the same. The injury to Darren Sharper might hurt them, but I think Malcolm Jenkins is a solid replacement. The offense is the straw that stirs the drink in New Orleans, and that will continue to be the case this year as the Saints should go about 13-3 and win this NFC South by a landslide.
2. ATLANTA FALCONS
The Falcons look to bounce back from an average year last year and they need their leader Matty Ice to step up and be all that he can be. He has plenty of targets with Roddy White, Michael Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez, and has an all-pro back in Michael Turner to hand the ball off to. This year will show just what Matt Ryan is made of. Will he bounce back from his sophmore slump? Dorne probably thinks so, but I'm not sold.
On defense, the Falcons have improved from last year. The addition of Dunta Robinson will help them immensely in the secondary, and their defensive line will be stout with John Henderson, Jonathan Babineaux and Perria Jerry leading the way. Despite these improvements, the Falcons have a very tough schedule with at least 9 games against very good teams. Because of this, I see them again going about 8-8 or 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
3. CAROLINA PANTHERS
Now that Jake Delhomme is gone, it is officially ok to like the Panthers again. That said, I don't really like them. Their offense will have to rely heavily and Crash and Dash, or Hash and Splash. Whatever they are called. However, if defenses bring too many guys in the box, they still have that Steve Smith guy. Matt Moore is not quite ready to lead this team into the playoffs though.
On defense, this team doesn't have much besides Dan Connor (Mark Forwood's boy). Look for them to go about 7-9 this year, and it may be off with coach John Fox's head.
4. TAMPA BAY BUCS
If the Bucs were ever to go back to the mandarin orange uniforms, I would predict them to win this division. As it is now though, I'm not even going to say anything about them. They stink. How about 5-11? Sound good? Ok cool.
The Saints could make another Super Bowl run this year, but who will their competition be in the NFC? Tune in tomorrow as I give you all the dirt on the NFC North.