Surprisingly, the NFC South (unlike almost every other division) is actually comprised of teams entirely from the South. More fun facts to follow.
Falcons. You know how many times Red has picked the Falcons before giving up on them last season. That’s right – a whole shitload. And how did that work out? And then last season Red finally wakes up picks the Panthers – who decide to suck while the Falcons finally wake up – at least until the second half of the Superb Owl. Take heart Falcons fans, Red can failure pain. And despite their pathetic performance in Houston, Red is biting on the Falcons. It may be a collapse of judgment to pick this team to win the NFC South, but this fall apart from some questions about a Superb Owl hangover, the Falcons look solid. Choking the list of positives, they have Matty Ice and the same basic offensive crew around him. Expect lots of bombs and dive plays. There may be a few questions – suck gas what happens without offensive wiz Kyle Shanahan? And is crack-up quarterback Matt Schaub capable of tanking over if needed? What will their record be? 10-6 or 11-5? Just flop a coin and don’t sink about it too much. Really, Falcons fans you should stop gripping, just say “Tanks” for a memorable season last year and hope for the bust in 2017. Atlanta strolls to an 11-5 record.
Buccaneers. The Buccaneers have a decent shot at a Wild Card spot. Their 5 game win streak to close the season almost almost landed them in the playoffs where nobody wanted to face them. They look to have two elite talents in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans. Doug Martin remains a question mark – he is either great or injured with little room in between. Jaquizz Rodgers needs to take over as the Number 1 back. Adding DeSean Jackson and O.J. Howard makes this a formidable offensive unit. On defense, Kwon Alexander put up Defensive ROY numbers in 2015 and improved last season and the rest of the defense looks good enough to win a lot of games. The Bucs have had trouble finishing off close ones. Dumping erratic kicker Roberto Aguayo and bringing in Nick Folk may help in that area. Look for the Tampa Bay to go 10-6 and make it to Wildcard Weekend.
Panthers. Panthers are a sexy pick to with the NFC South despite their first to worst performance in 2016. Losing six games by 3 points or less will get a bad record. Red thinks the Panthers are sadly headed in the wrong direction as evidenced by the firing of GM Dave Gettleman in July. Rivera’s job is on the line this season and his best work is not done under pressure. They do have an easy loser’s schedule and will not be playing with a makeshift O line as in 2016. But lack of a real running game will limit Cam’s options. CN does improve his woeful 52% completion rate last season, but it would be hard not to. On the other side the additions of Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn (perhaps Red’s favorite name in all of the NFL) will bolster a defense that distinctly underperformed last year. Still it is a difficult climb back to the excellence of 2015. The Panthers make it back a ways, but not a long ways. Carolina fans can expect an 8-8 record at best.
Saints. The Saints’ window of opportunity has closed. Not that it was all that wide open anyway with three consecutive 7-9 seasons. Adding boy-beater Adrian Peterson might help, but probably doesn’t offset losing rising star wideout Brandin Cooks. Last year Drew Brees refused to look tired and old. The ageless wonder completed a league-leading 471 of his league-leading 673 attempts for 70% completion rate (who in God’s name completed more than 70% of their passes last season?) for a league-leading 5208 yards (are you getting the drift here?) and 37 touchdowns! Imagine what that could have done for a team like say – the hapless Texans. Even though DB should be tired and old in his by-God 17th NFL season, he again refuses to follow the script and that alone will carry this team a long ways – just not long enough. Saints cannot score enough points to make up for sadly sagging defense. New Orleans slumps to 6-10.
Answer: Sam Bradford completed 71.4% and Matt Ryan completed 70.1% of their attempts to edge out Brees.