The NFC South - Predictions
So, the preseason is over, now its time to start bucking up and making those predictions that we'll all regret making in 17 short weeks.
I've watched every team in the division play and the good news is, we all have question marks - no one is a sure bet. In the hopes of being fair, I'm going to do a little break down of each and tell you the best, worst, and most probable (IMO) finish for each team.
Carolina will not be as good this year, period. On offense, they will suffer a setback mostly b/c their O-line is really shaky. Jake isn't real mobile and pressure will hurt him. More of those prayers he tosses up will be picked this season. At RB, Stephen Davis is good, but IMO, the best thing that could happen for them is for Davis to get hurt. Yep, you heard it. I think DeShaun Foster is a more complete back. He can make a guy miss and has some power. Stephen Davis is like Ricky Williams - he needs a big hole to run through and all he can do is put his head down and run over you. With a shaky line, he won't see many big holes. Give the ball to DeShaun.
On D, they will still be good, but they'll falter their too. Their run D will be real solid, but if you can pick up their pass rush, their secondary will get shredded. They will definitely give up more points this year. Carolina is the only team I see that is really unlikely to finish well below .500. At worst I see them 7-9. Likewise, I cannot see them being real good. The best I see on the upside for the Panthers is 10-6, maybe 11-5. Realistically, 8-8 or 9-7.
I don't care what you say, the Falcons are a much better team with Vick on the field. They have talent everywhere on offense now, and they are installing a system that will work well. Vick in the west coast may well end up being like Young in the west coast, except when Vick runs, it's like LaDanian Tomlinson in the open field. Still, it will take some time for that offense to start clicking.
Their defense was just plain bad last year, and I don't see it getting much better. Of course, it was probably not as bad as we all thought. Think of the positions that offense put the defense in. That won't happen again this season. I expect their defense to be middle of the pack around 18th or so. Atlanta is kind of a mystery to me and the spread I have for them is all over the place. Worst: 5-11, Best: 10-6, Prediction: 7-9.
Man, that offense has looked pretty bad at times and pretty darn efficient at others. To me, it depends mostly on two things: 1) if any RB will emerge there as even a decent threat, and 2) who their QB will be. I'll tell you one thing, Simms is the guy long term. He's smooth, athletic, calm in the pocket, and makes smart decisions. In the long term, he's a guy Saints fans may grow to hate.
On defense, they look real good again. Earlier I said I thought TB's D would fade, now I'm not so sure. Maybe the guys who were around last year were really there b/c of their names and not their play. That defense looks to be faster than ours, it flies all over the place, and attacks. Looking at their LBs and comparing them to ours makes me sick to the stomach. Their starting 3: Derrick Brooks, Ian Gold, Shelton Quarrles. What I wouldn't give for that... Still, there are a lot of people thinking they will falter. Maybe, but I'm not so sure anymore. We'll see if Chucky is really a worthy coach this season. I think Tampa may be the second best team in the division. Worst: 6-10, Best: 10-6, Predition: 9-7.
Aahh, our Saints. Where do I begin? The short and sweet of it: the o-line looks really questionable, I hope Brooks is healthy and stays that way, our WRs better catch the ball.
On D, well, let's just say the D needs to step it up all around. We all know the arguments on both sides of the ball here. The Saints are the most talented team in the division by far, but there is a major disconnect b/w their talent and their play. The good news is this is the only team I see being a true contender. The bad news is they have had the talent to be a contender for a while now. It makes for a tough call. Worst: 7-9, Best: 11-5, Prediction: 10-6 (I'm going positive this year).
So the recap looks like this:
Go Saints go. What do you guys think?
The NFC South - Predictions
Not too far from what I thought:
1st - Saint\'s 11-5, the Saint\'s have stayed the course whether we like it or not, consistency in players on a team makes alot of difference. We have arguably one of the deepest lines on both sides of the ball in the NFL, RB one of the best, WR corps very talented and fast and at TE, one of the best group\'s in the NFL. My only question marks remaining are on the defensive side of the ball. I think we need another heavy hitter in the secondary and a stronger MLB, but I truly believe by the end of the year the defense will be one of the best in the NFL, because of youth and speed.
2nd - Panther\'s 10-6 - the Panther\'s already have one strike against them, because they went to the Superbowl last year, few teams have returned win or lose and even fewer have returned to win the following year after losing the prior year. The Panther\'s creeped up on teams last year, which they won\'t have the luxury of this season. Everyone will be ready for them this season. I like Delhomme, but I think he is overated as a starting QB, I believe he is more a product of his surroundings then anything else.
3rd - Falcon\'s 8-8 - the Falcon\'s don\'t scare me as much as they did last season before Vick\'s injury. Vick seems tentative, even by preseason standards and anyone who touches him seems to be trying to kill the poor guy, hell I would be tentative too. I believe as Vick goes, so go the Falcon\'s. Vick will be not running for yards this year, but running for his life.
4th - Buc\'s 8-8 - the Buc\'s have been to the superbowl in the recent past, but made alot of changes this year and I do mean alot of changes. Takes time for all of the new players to gel together as a unit. Garner is suspect for me at running back and with Pittman out the first few games, McCardell a no show, kicking and backup QB concerns, they will be off to a slow start and by the way, the Saint\'s have the Buc\'s number anyway.
The NFC South - Predictions
Here\'s my angle:
I don\'t care what they did last year; this team can still play. DeShaun Foster will probably be used a lot more than in the past years, and he looks like he could have a great year. Their Offensive Line is squash, however. Their only good player is a 2nd year tackle who is switching from RT to LT.
The Panthers\' receivers won\'t scare any defensive coordinators, and that may be their best tool. Musin Muhammed and Steve Smith are pretty underrated. They can catch any pass that Delhomme can throw.
What many people like to think is that the defense sucks. The fact is, their defense isn\'t that bad. Their line is among the best in the league with Julius Peppers, Mike Rucker, and Kris Jenkins. The LB\'s are pretty average, but Dan Morgan is an untold hero. He\'s a solid run stuffer who can keep run-happy offenses (like us) honest. Of course, their weakness is the secondary. Their best CB will be the rookie Chris Gamble, who doesn\'t look like he\'s ready to be starting right away.
Overall, this team won\'t be horrible, but they won\'t be great. Worst case: 7-9 Best Case: 10-6
Two things happened this off-season that can turn this team around: Mike Vick is healthy, and he has a solid backup in Matt Schaub. Everyone in the universe will agree that Mike Vick IS the Atlanta Falcons. But Vick can\'t play OT, DT, LB, CB, and S at the same time. RB\'s Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett aren\'t good enough to give Vick good enough run-support, so he\'ll have to do most of the running on his own.
The West Coast system will probably hamper the offense for a few weeks, but will gel once Vick gets used to it. The system, based on precision timing, can\'t work unless the QB has enough time to make reads. And that depends on the O-line, which isn\'t very good... With Bob Whitfield gone, the Falcons are hoping that a 7th Round Draft Pick in 2002 and a 4 year drifter will fill the gaps at LT and LG. Yes, they\'re that desperate.
It gets worse. The defense, except for Pat Kerney and Keith Brooking, is a bunch of has-beens and never-will-be\'s. DeAngelo Hall, the savior for the secondary, is out for at least 6 weeks. They were the worst defense last year in nearly every category, and it\'s only going to get worse.
Overall, Mike Vick alone can keep this team alive. But he can\'t play every position on the field either... Worst case: 5-11 Best Case: 11-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Well, here\'s a confusing team. This team could do incredibly well or incredibly horrible. It all depends on the added players. Brad Johnson is still a dangerous QB, and the Bucs are loaded at WR with Tim Brown, Michael Clayton, and Joey Galloway. They don\'t even need Keenan McCardell anymore.
Charlie Garner is a big upgrade over Michael Pittman at RB. And don\'t forget about Alstott, he\'s back and ready to plow through on 3rd and short plays. The line, however, is a mess. None are respectable or very solid. The best offensive lines, any grizzled coach will tell you, are the ones that stay together for long times. This unit has 3 newcomers in Derrick Deese, Matt Stinchcomb, and Todd Steussie. Not a great outlook...
But the defense is still kickin\'. Even though Sapp and Lynch are gone, their D-line and LB corps are still rock solid. Simeon Rice, Derrick Brooks, Anthony McFarland, Shelton Quarles, Ian Gold, and Ronde Barber on one team?! Look out! Even without a great secondary, this squad will scare offenses all day long.
In short, the Bucs made a huge reloading effort with over 30 new players. Chemistry may not be great, and that may cost a game or two, but they\'re still choc full of talent. Best Case: 12-4 Worst Case: 6-10
New Orleans Saints
This will be the year of judgement for Jim Haslett. If the team has a good year, he\'ll have a contract extension. If the team sucks he\'ll most likely be fired. There\'s no excuse this season. The Saints have way too much talent to just let it all go down the drain.
On offense, Deuce McAllister rules. He is the lichpin to the offense\'s production and effectiveness. His success will lead to success in the passing game and Aaron Brooks. The receivers are the same solid contributors that we\'ve seen for the past 2 years, so don\'t expect anything different.
The line is probably the strongest in the NFC South, but they aren\'t supermen either. LeCharles Bentley will be playing center, and sophmore Montrae Holland steps in at RG. Other than that, not much change.
The Saints\' defense is somewhat better than last year. The line has improved vastly, and Brian Young will help to motivate the slacking Johnathan Sullivan. DE\'s Darren Howard, Charles Grant, and rookie Will Smith will well respected and feared by many O-lines around the league.
LB\'s and CB\'s were the positions that needed the most help for this year, but no respectable players were added to bolster the units. James Allen will have to take over for the suspended Sedrick Hodge at SLB, but neither is really a solid player.
Cie Grant would most likely have won the MLB battle had it not been for his knees. So rookie Courtney Watson has to take the job up by default.
The secondary is still sub-par. Except for Fred Thomas and Jay Bellamy, the unit has personnel issues. Ashley Ambrose and Jason Craft have proven that neither can cover receivers well. Tebucky Jones has worked on his tackling, but he will still need some work.
Overall, our beloved Saints feel that they\'re loaded up and ready to go deep into the playoffs. But they could also finish below .500 and spell doom for the Jim Haslett era. Best Case: 11-5 Worst Case: 7-9
The NFC South - Predictions
Wow. I can\'t believe there isn\'t a person who is willing to prove me wrong. I wrote a lot of stuff, and there\'s got to be SOMETHING that SOMEONE disagrees with!
Someone tell me that I was wrong about something! I want to argue with someone!!! :casstet:
The NFC South - Predictions
Stop me if you\'ve heard this one before...
I may have posted this in another thread, sorry if a repeat...
Atlanta? One man (Vick) is gonna account for a 6 game turn around? On a team with the worst defense in the NFL? On a team with a new coaching staff? On a team thats one more injury to their QB from being 5-11? A team that replaced every DB on the team? Hmmm... I just don\'t see them improving 6 whole games. I see 7-9. Maybe 9-7 if Vick stays healthy for 16 and their defense jells fast enough but its not likely.
Carolina- Pardon my skepticism but here\'s a team that was flat out lucky in 4 or 5 of their games. The NFL officialy apologized to us for blown calls that led DIRECTLY to a Panther win. Steven Davis was injury free for about the 1st time in his career. Now everyone will be shooting for them. I honestly don\'t think throwing the ball up for grabs in the final minutes is gonna win them 4 or 5 games again in 2004. I see 7-9 or 8-8 for this squad.
Tampa Bay-I\'ll never count out Monte Kiffin but this team looks like a re-build job. They still have that cocky swagger that other teams remember so I don\'t think you\'ll see teams let up on these dudes. I think they\'ll do better than Atlanta and Carolina but still hover around 8-8. If Gruden is half as good as advertised they may go 9-7.
New Orleans- This is a team that has no glaring weaknesses on their roster. One of the most talented teams top to bottom in the league. But they are still VERY young (except at CB). But without a massive re-vamp, and without the massive injuries we had last year, I can see this team easily winning 9 games. especially with their schedule. Its not nearly as tough as some make it out to be. I see them at 10-6
Tampa Bay 9-7
The NFC South - Predictions
Danno and I - thinking alike? What is the world coming to?
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