With just one day away from the NFL’s official kickoff to the 2021 season, we head down to the NFC South for our rendition of the Division Prediction Series.
Between major changes in quarterback, power and their respective teams, this division is always intriguing and at least one of the their teams have made their way to the Super Bowl in the past decade. Let’s see what’s in store for all four teams.
The Atlanta Falcons have now locked themselves into a transition era.
Between trading away All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones to drafting Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Atlanta’s 2021 season will be more along on the lines on to a reload or on the start of a total rebuild.
Along with signing running back Mike Davis in free agency to compliment tight end Hayden Hurst and wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the Falcons also added on to their defense in defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard and linebacker Brandon Copeland.
They also brought in Arthur Smith to be their new head coach as well.
This is shaping up to be a tough year for Atlanta, and it could get even tougher as they must make a decision on quarterback Matt Ryan’s future. It could be his last ride this season, and this will be a painful exit if it turns out to be the case.
The rebuild has been off to a good start for Carolina Panthers.
Though the offense is not the best, their defense is slowly, but surely, getting on the right track. However, the Panthers have made necessary changes just so they can get the offense going.
Key moves Carolina made in the offseason include the change in quarterbacks that saw Teddy Bridgewater being traded to Denver, which led to the trade with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold.
Along with the Panthers selecting LSU wide receiver Terrence Marshall Jr. for their offense, they also added on to their emerging defense in first-round pick in South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn.
As mentioned before, Carolina is on the right track to being back in contention in the division. The question is, can Darnold bring the offense back to their potential? We’ll give him a year before we call him an actual bust; sky is the limit for him.
New Orleans Saints
‘Every day an old chapter closes, and a new one opens.’ That quote defined the New Orleans Saints this 2021 offseason.
With the retirement of Drew Brees, it is now Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill’s turn to take over the reigns at quarterback. Big question is, what else are the Saints going to do from here?
Well, the offseason started off a bit rocky. As the team stared at over $100 million in cap space, they made their ways around to make plans work.
New Orleans placed the franchise tag on safety Marcus Williams and re-signed offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk to a five-year contract extension to stay. Other key moves were drafting Houston defensive end Payton Turner and Ohio State linebacker Pete Werner to get younger on defense.
The team remains in tact especially with running back Alvin Kamara leading the way, but like their rival Falcons, this will be a transition year. The Saints will either be really good or really bad; this will be interesting.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There’s a lot to be happy about down in Tampa Bay sports teams wise recently. Their football team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is no exception.
As much dismay from New England Patriots fans, Bucs quarterback Tom Brady had won his seventh(!) Super Bowl ring, and his team looks primed to get one more before he retires.
The team has not changed much and almost all their star players are being brought back, but their main moves include selecting Washington defensive end/linebacker Joe Tryon and Florida quarterback Kyle Trask in the Draft and re-signing key pieces in tight end Rob Gronkowski and controversial wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Tampa Bay is primed to make another Super Bowl run, and with Brady at quarterback and how their defense is, it looks inevitable. 2021 has been a fun year by the Bay, let’s hope the Bucs can live up to their expectations.
PROJECTED 2021 NFC SOUTH DIVISION STANDINGS
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers 12-5**
- New Orleans Saints 9-8
- Carolina Panthers 9-8
- Atlanta Falcons 5-12
Tampa Bay continues their momentum and dominance as they win the NFC South convincingly, and is the only team from this division in the playoffs this year.
The Panthers start their re-emergence back to relevancy and finish in a second-place tie with New Orleans settling at 9-8. And Atlanta is going to head to a rebuild as the team continue their struggles and finish with a 5-12 record.