The NFC South is going to be an exciting division this year to watch. With the addition of Tom Brady to the Buccaneers, it sure does make things exciting and the fact that Tom Brady and Drew Brees will be facing off against each other twice a year. Here are my predictions for the NFC South teams and an MVP and prospect to watch for each squad.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on the team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be a sub-average team in the NFC South. Their offence will be explosive, with Brady having the option to throw the ball to Mike Evans and Rob Gronkowski. However, their defence is where the issues are going to come into fruition. Plus, don't forget that Tom Brady is coming off a down year and is 43 years old, plus Rob Gronkowski isn't the same tight-end he was in his prime New England days. I don't see the Buccaneers making the playoffs this year, with too many issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Record Prediction: 6-10
MVP: Mike Evans
Mike Evans, over the past several years, has been a consistent producer for the Buccaneers. Last year, Evans racked up 1157 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. He has yet to have a season with under 1000 receiving yards. Evan's will be critical to the Buccaneers if they want to succeed in the fight for the division title, which I believe they won't.
Prospect: Antoine Winfield Jr.
Antoine Winfield Jr. looks like an exciting player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Winfield Jr., who in his last season, dominated with 58 solo tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and seven interceptions. The Buccaneers drafted the Minnesota university product in the 2nd round with the 45th overall pick. I expect him to have similar numbers in his rookie season, and he should help bolster the Buccaneers' defensive back unit.
New Orleans Saints
For the New Orleans Saints this year, it will not be business as usual, as with a new challenger in the division. The Saints will have to face Brady and his Bucs twice a year, and it will not be easy. However, the Saints have won the division title six times in the 18 years that the division has existed. I believe that the Saints this season will be challenged by teams for sure, but will come out on top of the NFC South. They have the right pieces this year and will do well just enough to stay above the Bucs.
Record Prediction: 10-6
MVP: Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas has been at the top of his game the past several seasons. Last year Thomas shattered the record books with 149 receptions and racked up over 1700 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. He could not be stopped in the previous year, with defences struggling with how to cover him. I expect him to be at the top of the charts with receptions and receiving yards. He is crucial to the Saints' success in the hunt for the division title.
Prospect: Cesar Ruiz
Cesar Ruiz looks to me like another back-up center for the New Orleans Saints, despite having an excellent year at Michigan last season. In the previous season, Ruiz spent 447 snaps in pass protection, only allowed eight pressures to the quarterback. Despite the big numbers from last season, Ruiz will have to prove the Saints coaching staff that he deserves that role as either starting center or 2nd string. I predict that he will be the 2nd string center and is occasionally put into games if the starter needs a break from play.
The Falcons will be in the middle of the pack when it comes to this season's division race. As with the addition of Todd Gurley does sound exciting, he is not the same player since it was announced that in June of 2019, he had arthritis in his knees. The Falcons will finish above the Buccaneers in 2nd place in the division.
Record Prediction: 7-9
MVP: Matt Ryan
Despite finishing last season with a record of 7-8 at QB, he will be the team's MVP for the season. Ryan, who last season, threw for over 4000 yards, threw 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He is the Falcons saving grace if they want a chance to win the division title race. I predict that Ryan will throw for over 3500 yards, 25 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Prospect: A.J. Terrell
The Atlanta Falcons made a surprising selection in the first round by taking cornerback A.J. Terrell. Terrell spent the last three seasons playing at Clemson, who has not looked like a productive cornerback, with only two interceptions, 24 solo tackles, and 3.5 tackles for loss. Terrell will be looking to make a name for himself in the league, and he is going to have to have higher numbers in his rookie campaign.
Since the departure of Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly retiring due to the number of concussions he has suffered. The once Carolina Panthers team that went 15-1 is a thing from the past. The Carolina Panthers do have a lot of promise going into this season, with the addition of Teddy Bridgewater and Christian Mccaffrey entering his 4th season. However, it will not be Carolina's year, as it will take time for Bridgewater to build chemistry with the Panthers. Plus, the Carolina defence is not what it once was. That said, I see them sitting right beside the Falcons in the NFC South.
Record Prediction: 7-9
MVP: Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey, who came onto the NFL scene in 2017, has dominated the rushing charts. McCaffrey rushed for over 1300 yards and had 15 rushing touchdowns last season to help Carolina win a couple of games. He will need to have another big season if they want to have a chance to fight for the division crown. I predict that he will finish the season with over 1100 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.
Prospect: Derrick Brown
Derrick Brown is going to make a minor impact on the Carolina Panthers' defensive front. As last season Brown had an average season at Auburn, as he had 32 solo tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. Due to Brown's quick speed, he will help the Carolina Panthers to be able to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and force them into errors. I predict that he will finish the season with 30 solo tackles, ten tackles for loss and five sacks.