- 08/08/2011, 11:25AM ET
CuntryBlumpkin said 08/08, 11:25 AM
I have to go with the Atlanta Falcons.
On offense, you have one of the best young QBs in the game with Matt Ryan, an excellent RB in Michael Turner, a solid group of receivers in Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez.
The O-line has it's question marks, but that didn't slow them down last season.
And while the defense isn't great, it isn't terrible either, the defense will be good enough to keep them in games, and their explosive offense will win them games.
Last season the Falcons won the NFC South, and this season Matt Ryan has another year of experience, the receiving core is improved, and I think they are the best team in the NFC South.
The Panthers are contenders for Andrew Luck.
The Buccaneers are close, but I think they need another year before they contend for the NFC South title.
The Saints are closest competition, and like the Falcons, their defense isn't spectacular, but the Saints have no proven running game, and last season Drew Brees to a step back from previous years.
The Falcons have a nice mix of veterans and young guns, and they take the NFC South title.
(Un) said 08/09, 06:59 AM
With much respect to Tampa Bay, and condolences to Carolina, the NFC South is going to come down to Atlanta vs New Orleans. I'm taking the Saints.
New Orleans is only one season removed from winning Super Bowl XLIV. And it's easy to forget that they tied for the 2nd best record (11-5) in the NFC last year. This is still very much a team with realistic Super Bowl aspirations.
When I'm comparing two teams as evenly matched as Atlanta and New Orleans, the first thing I look at is the quarterback. I have to give the edge to Drew Brees.
Brees played part of the 2010 season with a torn MCL. Yet threw for more touchdowns (33 vs 28) and more passing yards (4,620 vs 3,705) than Matt Ryan, with a nearly identical passer rating (90.9 vs 91.0).
To put things in perspective:
- That was considered a bad season for Drew Brees
- It was considered a good season for Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan is good but Drew Brees is better.
The second thing I look at is the coaching staff. New Orleans still has Sean Payton and Gregg Williams, the same guys who coached them to their 2009 Championship.
Sean Payton is 4-2 against Atlanta's Mike Smith. Coaching advantage: Saints.
CuntryBlumpkin said 08/09, 06:51 PM
New Orleans might be just one year removed from a Super Bowl, and they might have been tied for the second best record in the NFC last season, but do you know who had the best record in the NFC?
It was the Atlanta Falcons.
Yes, Drew Brees puts up better numbers than Matt Ryan, and Brees is a better QB, but Matt RYan is a very good QB, and a whole lot younger than Brees.
The Falcons offense is much more balanced than the Saints. The Saints over the last couple of seasons have been a very pass happy team due to the lack of a reliable RB. Mark Ingram has potential, but he hasn't played a down in the NFL yet.
The Falcons on the other hand have one of the better run games in the NFL with Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.
Not to mention Roddy White is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL.
When you are comparing fairly even teams like the Falcons and Saints, I'll take the more balanced offense every time.
Both teams look to be near the top in points scored, but honestly, I just can't see the Saints retaking the NFC South title.
The Falcons will repeat.
(Un) said 08/10, 07:53 AM
Yes, the Atlanta Falcons won the NFC South last year. But when was the last time that mattered in the NFC South? The division was established in 2002 and has never had a repeat champ. I don't expect that pattern to change.
Last year Atlanta was fortunate enough to lose a league-low 3 players to injured reserve (Jerious Norwood, Kerry Meier, Schann Schillinger). None of those players were starters. And only one player, Norwood, could even be considered a contributor. Maintaining that kind of health is far from guaranteed. Actually it's quite unlikely.
In comparison, New Orleans lost 8 players to injured reserve (much closer to the NFL's status quo) and still challenged Atlanta for the division, all the way down to the last two weeks of the season.
You can throw the Saints 2010 rushing numbers out the window. Pierre Thomas, the Saints leading rusher from the 2009 season (New Orleans was #6 in rushing yards in 2009), returns from injured reserve. He'll be splitting carries with Chris Ivory, Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles. They'll be running behind Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans, with the addition of Olin Kreutz.
CuntryBlumpkin said 08/10, 09:02 PM
Yeah, the NFC South has a pattern of no repeat champions, but all streaks eventually come to an end, and 2011 will be the end of that streak.
The Falcons were a healthy team last season, and I see no reason why they can't be a healthy team this season. They are a pretty young team with a few veterans mixed in with the group.
The Saints had more injuries, but with guys going on the IR, there's no telling how they're gonna do when they come back, and one big injury tends to lead to injury problems in the NFL. The Falcons might get a bit more banged up, but nothing would lead you to predict an injury plague.
The Saints running game might improve, but it still won't be on par with Atlanta's with Michael Turner and Jason Snelling.
Mark Ingram is a rookie with no guarantee. Pierre Thomas is coming off of IR, Darren Sproles is undersized and is primarily a kick returner, and Chris Ivory isn't starting Rb quality.
All in all, the Falcons have improved their receiving corp, Matt Ryan has matured another season, and they have a better run game.
Falcons win the South.
Good TD Un.
(Un) said 08/10, 09:38 PM
New Orleans quietly had one of the most improved defense in the league last year. They jumped from #25 (2009) to #4 (2010) in total yards allowed. And improved from #20 (2009) to #7 (2010) in points allowed.
Their only weakness defensively was stopping the run. They addressed that need by signing former 3-4 nose tackles, Aubrayo Franklin and Shaun Rogers. Franklin doesn't get much love from the media. But he's one of the premier run stoppers in the league. In each of his four seasons with the 49ers, San Francisco's defense never ranked worse than #8 in YPC allowed. Franklin can shut down the run by himself. Now he gets a 350lb sidekick in Rogers.
Add to that first-round draft pick, 287lb d-end Cameron Jordan, and it will be difficult to run the ball against New Orleans. And that doesn't bode well for Atlanta in their head-to-head games.
At age 32, Drew Brees is still in his prime. He has led the NFL in completion % each of the last two seasons and will only benefit from a revamped backfield in 2011. Add in a championship-calibre coaching staff, and a top defense on the rise, and New Orleans should be considered the favorite in the NFC South.
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