The NFC South has the chance to be the division of intrigue and excitement in 2020. Many matchups outside of the division will have primetime magnitude while divisional bouts will make decade long rivalries mean something more. Here are the five reasons why the NFC South will be the toughest division in the NFL.
No. 1: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers Are a Playoff Contender With Tom Brady
Lying in a pool of consistent mediocrity for the past decade, the Bucs now become a way more prominent player in postseason football. This is due to former New England Patriot Tom Brady residing as their quarterback. While he’s a mere shell of his MVP self at 43 years old, Brady transgresses his declining arm strength with an innate awareness, great anticipation, and legendary intangibles. The days of collectively groaning from a drive-killing turnover by ex-quarterback Jameis Winston are over for the Buccaneers. With the greatest of all time at the helm, they have a chance to maximize their offensive potential.
No. 2: The Atlanta Falcons Have Added More Offensive Firepower
Todd Gurley was once the toast of the running back community. Namely in 2018, after a second consecutive 1200 plus rushing season with Rams. Then, knee arthritis kicked in towards the back half of that year’s playoff run leading to his eventual release this offseason. The transaction allowed Gurley to return to his home state of Georgia, potentially resurrecting his career as the team’s potential premier back.
The Falcons’ offense is currently headed by aging but productive stalwarts Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. Calvin Ridley has emerged into a very competent WR2 while their o-line led by Alex Mack is riddled with former first-round picks. The signing of former first-rounder Hayden Hurst this offseason has the team hoping he can fill their tight end void. For the team’s skill position players to live up to their fullest potential, the offensive trenches have to hold Ryan upright for most of the season. If they can, their air and rush attack could materialize into one of the explosive, balanced operations in the game to date.
No. 3: The Carolina Panthers Will Be a Competitive Rebuilding Team
Matt Rhule inherits the job of reigniting the competitive brand of football that made the Panthers respected for most of the last decade. Gone are the organization’s past legends in former MVP Cam Newton and former DPOTY Luke Keuchly. However, the team’s new face is arguably the best running back in football in Christian McCaffrey. His dual-threat ability as a rusher and receiver should fit perfectly with single caller Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater is presented an opportunity to finally be a starting quarterback after years as the New Orleans Saints backup. His continued efficient play as a passer under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Joe Brady will accelerate his progression.
Yet, what made Carolina a Super Bowl participant in 2015 was their defense. Entering the 2020-21 season, it seems they’re vowing to remodel that side of the field. First-round selection Derrick Brown has the talent to become one of the feared interior linemen in the game. Flanked by Shaq Thompson as the Middle Backer, the Panthers have the ability on both sides of the ball to be no easy out within the division.
No. 4: The New Orleans Saints Are Legitimate Super Bowl Threats
In the last three seasons, the Saints have fallen to postseason heartbreaks. Now, in possibly Brees’ last season with the squad, New Orleans is in win-now mode. To complement the QB are a surplus of reliable receivers. In addition to that, they have one of the premier offensive lines in the game.
Defensively, the Saints hope Janoris Jenkins becoming their number two corner will quell their past woes. Bringing back Malcolm Jenkins to serve as the team’s elder statesmen at safety can provide the structure within the secondary. New Orleans has all the pieces to be a legit threat this year.
No. 5: The Quarterback Play Will Test the Defense in Every Divisional Matchup
There are no pushovers at the QB position in the NFC South. Brady and Brees are credited Super Bowl Champions. Ryan has been in a Super Bowl, and Bridgewater has started a playoff game in their respective careers. They all present solid abilities that make them respected players at their positions. The career achievements of Brady have labeled him the greatest ever. Brees’s passing yardage throughout his career makes him a walking stat filler. When upright, Ryan can throw the prettiest deep ball in the game. Teddy Bridgewater is as mobile as he is cerebral inside and out of the pocket. Every divisional opponent will have their hands full with their NFC South matchups.