NFC South – 2010 NFL Season Preview

2009 Standings at Season’s End

  1. New Orleans Saints (13-3)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (9-7)
  3. Carolina Panthers (8-8)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-13)

The NFC South is home to the Defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints, but don’t think that gives them any advantages heading into the 2010 season. This division is fairly solid top to bottom, meaning that there aren’t any “gimme’s” on anybody’s schedule. There are really only two contenders in this division, which isn’t nearly as potent as it was last season. This is still the Saint’s division to lose, however, but whether anyone will step up to take it from them remains to be seen.

New Orleans Saints

This team returns nearly every starter from their potent offense of 2009, making them an early favorite to repeat as Super Bowl champs. Their road to repeat will depend on the defense, however, as the squad from 2009 was in the bottom 1/3 of the league in terms of rushing and passing yards allowed. Fortunately, the Saints are comfortable in shootout situations, so the poor defensive play last season was nothing more than a hiccup on their way to a championship. But as any NFL coach will tell you, offenses are easier to exploit than defenses, meaning that the offense will have to be on their A-game if they want to match last season’s effectiveness.

New Orleans Saints 2010 Prediction

The Saints are all but a lock to win the NFC South again, mainly because the Falcons are still a season away from really being contenders. There’s a lot to be said about a team that can return the majority of its offensive starters, which makes them that much more of a threat to score on the regular. They probably won’t match their win total from last season, but the division is theirs as they finish 12-4.

Atlanta Falcons LogoAtlanta Falcons

Matt Ryan has another year of experience under his belt and is quickly emerging as the leader of this offense. Their offense was just average last season, but most of the pieces are back in 2010, giving the unit as a whole more confidence and experience together. So far Matt Ryan (Matty Ice) has shown us that he is a good NFL quarterback, but he has yet to show us any greatness and until he does that, the Falcons will continue to be “also-rans” in this division. Turner’s lingering injury issues give this offensive a little bit of concern, but Jerious Norwood is an adequate backup/substitute. If the Falcons want any chance of winning the NFC South in 2010, they will need to play better in the defensive secondary. If they don’t shore up their defense, the Saints will destroy them, as will almost every other team on their schedule.

Atlanta Falcons 2010 Prediction

2010 will be an interesting year for the Falcons who are probably still a year away from contending for a division title. They have too many questionable factors on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball to even call them a legitimate playoff contender. Their record will drop off a little bit from last season as they finish at 8-8.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers probably listened to a little bit too much Katy Perry last year as they were hot and cold, yes and no, on both sides of the ball. Their running attack was as potent as any, but they were pathetic through the air. On defense, their secondary was the epitome of a shutdown unit while they allowed teams to run on them at will. They have a new QB in Matt Moore, who actually closed out the Panther’s season quite well, posting a 4-1 record while throwing 8 touchdowns to just 2 interceptions. He is a definite improvement over Jake Delhomme, but he might not even be the third best QB in this division. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are a potent two-headed rushing threat, but they are seriously lacking in their wide receiver corps. Steve Smith is the only viable receiver this team has, and even at his best, he isn’t what he used to be. Look for defenses to key in heavily on the running game all season, with little to no threat of getting burned deep.

Carolina Panthers 2010 Prediction

The Panthers have some hope heading into 2010, thanks to the solid play of Matt Moore in closing out the 2009 campaign. However, they are still a far cry away from being a contender in this division, let alone the conference. Watch for them to lose double digit games this season, posting a 5-11 record.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers LogoTampa Bay Buccaneers

2009 was one of the worst seasons in Tampa Bay history, which is saying something considering they were one of only two teams in NFL history to post a winless season. They were ranked 20th or lower in almost every notable statistic last season and haven’t really seen any significant upgrades on either side of the ball. This is a team that was bad last year and did nothing to help themselves out. Their schedule isn’t necessarily friendly despite their woeful 2009, but then again, when you are a team as bad as the Bucs, there aren’t too many games on the schedule that look winnable. The development of Josh Freeman is still an ongoing project, and until he gets more experience and confidence, the offense will continue to sputter.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2010 Prediction

I see this team having a legitimate shot to win three games this season, and even those games aren’t a guaranteed W. If they are lucky, they will win all three and have the same record as last season, but realistically speaking, this team will go 2-14.

2010 NFC South Predicted Final Standings

  1. New Orleans Saints (12-4)
  2. Atlanta Falcons (8-8)
  3. Carolina Panthers (5-11)
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14)