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2020 Season Predictions Roundtable: NFC South

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New Orleans Saints v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images

We begin our season predictions series with the NFC South.

New Orleans won 13 games in route to their third consecutive division crown last season. Nonetheless, the NFC South should be competitive in 2020. Bruce Arians lured six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady and his trusty tight end Rob Gronkowski to Tampa. Atlanta added a few pass defenders to complement their potent passing offense. And Carolina will be ushering in a new era with head coach Matt Rhule, coordinator Joe Brady and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Baltimore Beatdown staff’s predictions:


1. New Orleans

2. Tampa Bay *

3. Atlanta

4. Carolina

In what could be Drew Brees’ final season, the Saints remain the favorites in the division. New Orleans boasts perhaps the league’s most talented offensive line, consistent offensive playmakers, a top shelf pass rusher and cover corners. The Buccaneers’ elite receiving corps and fierce run defense should help earn a wildcard berth, but Tampa will not advance far unless their porous pass defense improves.

Atlanta appears to be an 8-8 team, Matt Ryan has ample pass catcher to target but must navigate an underwhelming blocking unit and the Falcons defensive personnel is mediocre beyond Grady Jarrett, Dante Fowler Jr. and Deion Jones. Continuing the theme of this division, the Panthers have assembled an impressive group of pass catchers, but Luke Kuechly’s retirement could keep them in the cellar.

- Vasilis Lericos


1. New Orleans

2. Tampa Bay *

3. Atlanta

4. Carolina

New Orleans has been an absolute juggernaut for the regular season recently, posting two consecutive 13-3 seasons. There is little reason to doubt that they wouldn’t continue that success in the coming year. The Buccaneers have a brand new team lead by GOAT candidate Tom Brady, but his age, along with the health of Gronk, doesn’t inspire enough confidence to say they’ll be able to get past New Orleans.

The Falcons and Panthers are in a different tier than the others in their division. With a disappointing season last year, the Falcons are going to be staring at some big changes to their roster and coaching staff if they don’t deliver a playoff appearance this season. Making it into the wildcard slot will be a challenge.

- Peter Daubert


1. Tampa Bay

2. New Orleans *

3. Carolina *

4. Atlanta

The addition of Tom Brady to an already very talented offense will propel the Buccaneers to first place. After a very strong draft class anchored by OT Tristan Wirfs, who is expected to start at right tackle, as well as the very talented safety, Antoine Winfield Jr., the Bucs have a very solid roster. Also, I foresee Brady being an exceptional leader, too.

The Saints, though talented, will not be on Tampa Bay’s level. In a tough division overall, especially with the addition of Brady, I don’t see the Saints dominating like they did last year. Atlanta always gives them a hard time and Carolina is much improved from last year. Following the Saints will be the Panthers. Though much improved, the team will have a rookie head coach and a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, both of whom are wildcards. Atlanta will finish after Carolina. I have little faith in Dan Quinn as a legitimate head coach. As scrappy as Atlanta is, I predict an 8-8 season for them.

- Adrian Charchalis


1. New Orleans

2. Tampa Bay *

3. Atlanta

4. Carolina

The Saints remain the top dog in the division as they return most of the starters from a loaded team. The Buccaneers finish second and make the wildcard, finally ending a playoff drought dating back to 2007. The Falcons are competitive but miss out on the playoffs as they finish third in the division, struggling to reach a .500 record. The Panthers will fail to win more than five games with a shoddy defense and an offense that will struggle to put up points with Teddy Bridgewater.

- Dustin Cox


1. New Orleans

2. Carolina

3. Tampa Bay

4. Atlanta

The New Orleans Saints have the most complete roster in the division and are coming off three consecutive division titles. I don’t expect that to change this season. The Carolina Panthers showed that they could win with competent quarterback play last season as Kyle Allen led the Panthers to a 5-1 record over his first six games which included wins over the Tennessee Titans and the Houston Texans. Teddy Bridgewater is a major improvement at quarterback; Bridgewater, star running back Christian McCaffrey, breakout receiver DJ Moore, and free agent acquisition Robby Anderson make up an underrated offensive core that could outperform expectations.

I still have a lot of questions about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. How much can Tom Brady elevate this offense at age 43? Can Shaquil Barrett replicate his 2019 stats? After finishing 27th in yards per carry last season, can they establish an effective running game? Is Rob Gronkowski ready to contribute right away? I don’t expect everything to fall in Tampa Bay’s favor. Finally, the Atlanta Falcons still have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but I have no faith in Dan Quinn to coach this team. Although I like the addition of Dante Fowler, their defense remains very thin.

- Jakob Ashlin


1. New Orleans

2. Tampa Bay *

3. Carolina

4. Atlanta

Is this the year Saints finally defeat their playoff demons? Only time will tell but they’ll definitely be back in the postseason. The Saints return one of the most complete rosters in the NFL and should have no issues reigning supreme in the NFC South for a fourth consecutive season. The offseason additions of WR Emmanuel Sanders, OL Cesar Ruiz and S Malcom Jenkins should prove to have a positive impact.

I’m not buying into the Buccaneers hype per say, but I do think they’ll narrowly finish second in the division with about nine wins. They only finished one game under .500 in 2019 and had a positive point differential. Tom Brady won’t turn the ball over at the same rate of Jameis Winston, which should help them eek out a couple of the close contests they lost last year. I think Tampa Bay will be on the playoff fence as the season comes to an end but will squeeze their way into a Wild Card spot by virtue of tiebreaker.

One of the biggest sleeper teams in the NFL this season, in my opinion, is the Carolina Panthers. They added an infusion of defensive talent in the draft and Teddy Bridgewater will bring stability and low-risk play at the quarterback position. I think they’ll win eight or nine games but unfortunately fall victim to a stacked division and come up short of the playoffs. I don’t believe the Falcons did enough this offseason to keep up with the rest of the NFC South. They still have concerning holes on the defensive side of the ball.

- Frank Platko

Poll

Who will win the NFC South?

This poll is closed

  • 70%
    Saints
    (126 votes)
  • 14%
    Buccaneers
    (26 votes)
  • 6%
    Falcons
    (11 votes)
  • 8%
    Panthers
    (15 votes)
178 votes total Vote Now