August 9, 2012

3-Way NFL Preview: NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
W17L:  11-5  (2nd seed, loses to New Orleans in Divisional Round)
Forecaster:  8-8
Random:  9-7  (3rd seed, loses to Dallas in Wild Card Round)

W17L's Take:  The Falcons have had a very good team for the last few years, and I don't expect anything about that to change.  I especially love the quartet of Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White, and Julio Jones.

Forecaster's Take:  I'm not as high on the Falcons, mostly because their offense has to run too many plays to score, and the defense doesn't keep opponents on the field long enough.

Carolina Panthers
W17L:  8-8
Forecaster:  10-6  (4th seed, loses to Seattle in Wild Card Round)
Random:  9-7

W17L's Take:  I am all-in on Cam Newton.  He is, in my opinion, the most exciting player to watch in the league, and I think he has the work ethic to learn from his poor performance in the second half of 2011 and figure out a way to beat the defenses designed to stop him.  Even if he doesn't, Newton is still a threat as a scrambler and short-yardage runner.  The Panthers should add a couple more wins that last year.

Forecaster's Take:  After leading the league in rushing first downs and coming in 5th in points scored, the Panthers have a great chance to take the next step and become a playoff team.

New Orleans Saints
W17L:  10-6  (5th seed, loses to Green Bay in NFC Championship)
Forecaster:  8-8
Random:  7-9

W17L's Take:  Dropping the Saints by 3 wins from last year isn't a sign that I think the bounty scandal will hurt them.  I actually think it will be a rallying point for the team, especially in the playoffs.  The reason I expect the Saints to win only 10 games is because Drew Brees can't possibly match his numbers from last year, and therefore the offense won't be able to cover up a below average defense.

Forecaster's Take:  The Saints will not be hurt by the bounty scandal, but rather their inability to make opponents run the ball, and the fact that they led the league in offensive plays in 2011.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
W17L:  5-11
Forecaster:  3-13
Random:  7-9

W17L's Take:  The Buccaneers weren't very good last year, and they didn't make any big moves in the offseason.  It's hard to score points when Josh Freeman and LeGarrette Blount are your primary weapons.

Forecaster's Take:  The Bucs will be awful in 2012 because they can't run for first downs and their run defense is pathetic.

For an explanation of the Forecaster and Random projections, go here.  Teams are ranked by total wins over the three projections.

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