2020 NFC South Division Preview: Panthers Post-Cam; Will Bucs Regret Signing Brady? On Lowest of Keys Jameis & Saints are Perfect Match; Will Falcons Ever Get Over SB Loss – BlackSportsOnline
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2020 NFC South Division Preview: Panthers Post-Cam; Will Bucs Regret Signing Brady? On Lowest of Keys Jameis & Saints are Perfect Match; Will Falcons Ever Get Over SB Loss

It’s time to take a little trip down south.

In this issue of 2020 NFL division previews, I’ll be discussing the NFC South, which has certainly made a strong case to be named the best division in all of football…..for entertainment purposes.

In all seriousness, those once pedestrian New Orleans Saints-Tampa Bay Buccaneers matchups that only included the occasional close game, are now suddenly must watch games. Tom Brady vs. Drew Brees, two times a year, how can it get any better than that?

To be fair though, those two names aren’t the only reason we’ll be ditching our local games to catch a Bucs-Saints matchup. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin put on a show with whoever is taking the snaps at quarterback, for the Saints, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara are two of the best talents at each of their respective positions.

I didn’t even mention the other off-season acquisitions for both teams, which we’ll talk more about later on.

There’s also the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers, but both are in peculiar situations right now.

Ah enough of me describing my own personal excitement, let’s get this preview done shall we?

Best Offense: New Orleans Saints

Tom Brady’s addition to the Buccaneers isn’t steering me away from this selection. The Saints still employ the best offense in the entire division, not because of an overall level of talent, but an overall level of cohesiveness that stands above any other offense in the division.

Drew Brees and Sean Payton’s partnership has spanned over the course of over a decade, and with that partnership, the Saints achieved the most success in the history of their franchise.

Years of playoff games, explosive offenses, and even a Super Bowl title have made their way to the Big Easy during the near fantasy partnership between Brees and Payton. To go along with this near fantasy partnership, the level of talent this offenses possesses is really impressive.

Michael Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in football, and has developed a near scary QB-WR relationship with Drew Brees. Alvin Kamara is the lead back once again, he’s also a personal favorite of mines to watch. You probably don’t care, but oh well. You can’t forget about Jared Cook either, who’s really found himself again playing under Sean Payton.

To make things even better, the Saints finally addressed the one things that’s plagued their offense over the last couple of years, the lack of a WR2. To plug in as their 2nd WR, the team signed Emmanuel Sanders, one of the best options for a WR2 out there.

Sanders’s signing went a bit under the radar, but it should pay extreme dividends for the Saints’s offense as a whole.

I can’t forget about the big boys protecting Brees either, which is another top unit in the league by the way.

This should be a fun offense to watch once again, it really all depends on Drew Brees, and how much juice is left in that aging arm of his. Based on what we’ve witnessed over the last couple of years, that amount of juice seems to be on the lower side, but if he can muster just enough, we’ll be watching another year of offensive dominance for the Saints.

Best Defense: New Orleans Saints

A clean sweep of the top choices for best offense and defense in the NFC South.

This unit was a fun one to watch during the absence of Drew Brees early on in the season. Once Brees’s injury timeline was laid out, and Teddy Bridgewater was forced into first team action, many didn’t seem to feel the slightest bit of confidence about the Saints’s chances to hold up in the competitive NFC playoff race.

But when it mattered most, this defense shed their narrative of being complete pushovers, and were a big help when the team really needed it.

All of the other defenses in the division are bleh at best, but some have a promising future moving forward. The Bucs have a nice collection of young talent spread all over the defensive side of the ball, and it’s the same for the Panthers.

The Falcons still have a head scratching defense, so I’m not too keen on sticking theirs up there among the best in the division.

For various reasons listed above, I’ll roll with the Saints here.

Impact Rookie: Cesar Ruiz 

When I looked back on the 2020 draft classes for all four teams in this division, my pick for the most impactful rookie came down to two 1st round offensive lineman.

Tristan Wirfs and Cesar Ruiz.

Both will slide in and start for their respective teams, both will have the responsibility of keeping a future hall of famer off of the ground, and both will be under immense amounts of pressure.

Who do I give the edge to? It was a tough choice, but I’ll roll with Cesar Ruiz here. For me, I’m more concerned on whether my guards can do their job, more than debating if my right tackle can do their job.

Interior pressure for any quarterback is difficult to handle, even Patrick Mahomes. It’s not even a concern for just quarterbacks either, disruption from the interior of your offensive line can completely bomb you run game as well. That’s why you see the big bucks get shelled out to some of the top offensive guard talent in the league, to combat the serious threats interior disruption bring.

Ruiz himself is a nice sized, nimble guy for a guard. Those sorts of traits will prove handy for a division full of playmakers on the defensive line. Grady Jarrett, Vita Vea, Ndamukong Suh, Kawaan Short, and now Derrick Brown. So much talent for any veteran to handle throughout a season, let alone a rookie.

We’ll see how Ruiz holds up, but I’m betting he’ll be up for the challenge.

Sleeper Team: Atlanta Falcons

I really want to believe in the Falcons’s chances to succeed, I really do. I can’t stand seeing Julio Jones miss the playoffs year after year, I can’t stand watching Grady Jarrett’s dominance go to waste, I just can’t stand watching elite talents miss out on the winter tournament.

Look, Matt Ryan switches from hot to cold from year to year it seems, the Falcons’s defense is still missing some pieces, and Dan Quinn is still somehow coaching this football team.

But boy oh boy, this squad can compete with the best of them when things are clicking. That’s why I hold a slim amount of hope for this team, and when I say slim, I mean slim.

Biggest Disappointment: Atlanta Falcons

Yes, this might not make sense at first, but let me make it make sense.

Take a second to read my words under “Sleeper Team“, and put together your thoughts. This team still has a bunch of talent, but they still have a numbers of other problems.

Dan Quinn survived Black Monday by winning 6 of the Falcons’s last 8 games, giving off a sense of false hope, and keeping the Falcons linked to the ex-Seahawks DC until the ship completely sinks.

This team needed to move on from Quinn last season, but they didn’t, and I truly believe they’ll end up suffering at the hand of their upcoming consequences due to their hesitancy.

I don’t know, maybe Quinn can pull some magic out of his hat, and right the ship moving forward. But jeez man, I just don’t see it, I just don’t.

How Many Teams Make The Playoffs: 2

The sane football watchers out there will ignore all the Tom Brady related noise, and ride with the Saints to once again win the NFC South.

But just because the Bucs seem to be a couple of key pieces short of winning a division title, doesn’t mean they’ll miss out on the playoffs. I have Bruce Arians’s team as one of the 3 wild card teams in the NFC, edging out some other intriguing squads like the Vikings and Rams.

Like I said before, the Buccaneers have a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Combine that with a rising defense with fast developing youth and I think you’ll find yourself watching some Tampa Bay playoff football in the winter of 2021.

Division Winner: Saints

Psssh, I’m not picking against Sean Payton, even with the added intrigue in Tampa Bay.

Give me the Saints.