2013 NFL Preseason Predictions: NFC South (Trifone)
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Here are my 2013 preseason predictions for the NFC South:
1. Atlanta Falcons (schedule): 10-6
I wasn’t a big fan of the Falcons last year. I found them unimpressive in many of their victories, and I didn’t see them being deserving of the credit that they were receiving.
Many thought they were on the same level as the best teams like the 49ers, Seahawks, or Broncos. I know they beat the Broncos, but that was in Week 2, only Peyton Manning’s second game back from missing the entire season with a neck injury, and it was at home. I also know they beat the Seahawks in the playoffs, but if you watched the game, it was clear who the better team was. Seattle was awful in the first half, but Atlanta did everything they could to let them back in the game, losing a 20-0 first-half lead, and getting outscored 21-3 in the fourth quarter.
Still, I think the Falcons have a chance to get on the level with the handful of teams with Super Bowl hopes. The addition of Steven Jackson is a good one, and until they give me reason to doubt them again this year, I’ll call the Falcons a contender going into the season.
2. Carolina Panthers (schedule): 10-6
The Panthers were the opposite of the Falcons last year. The Falcons won nearly every close game, while the Panthers lost them. Some might see that as the good teams knowing how to find a way to win, and to some degree that might be true. But it’s not true when it happens every game. The best of the best teams should not be eking out game after game.
Although their records didn’t indicate it, the gap between the Panthers and Falcons was not that wide. Carolina won five out of their last six games to finish the season, after losing heart-breakers to the Falcons by two, Seahawks by four, Cowboys by five, Bears by one, and Bucs by six in OT.
I think Cam Newton is going to get better this year, and the Panthers are going to be a team no one wants to play come January.
3. New Orleans Saints (schedule): 8-8
The Saints finished 7-9 last year, but will get their coach back this year, and are no longer facing the distractions they faced last year.
Drew Brees is clearly one of the best in the business, and I think the Saints can get off to a great start, with a relatively weak schedule early on. However, the back half of the year has them facing Dallas, San Francisco, @ Atlanta, @ Seattle, @ St. Louis, and Carolina twice.
New Orleans had the best passing offense in the league last year, but was 25th rushing the ball, and was ranked 31st and 32nd respectively against the pass and the run.
Brees may or may not throw for another 5,000 yards this season, but it didn’t help his team reach the playoffs or the .500 mark last year.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (schedule): 8-8
The Bucs are another team that I could see on the rise.
Adding Darrelle Revis to help secure the defense could prove to be a pretty big move, and in another year, the Bucs may be one of my surprise teams to potentially do some damage in the playoffs. The NFC is loaded this year, though, and I think the Bucs may fall a bit short. The NFC South is pretty loaded, especially if you think that the Panthers are going to be as good as I think they should.
Still, I’m projecting a one-game improvement over last year’s record to get them to .500.
All of our contributors will make their division and Super Bowl picks and we will track those on this centralized predictions page.