With the 2011 NFL season is a couple weeks from kicking off, the anticipation is growing. Especially after being away from football for so long due to the lockout, I’m sure fans around the league can’t wait to get things rolling again.

In preparation of that, I’ve decided to start a season preview series discussing different aspects of each team in relation to their respective divisions.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Last season was an interesting year for the NFC South to say the least. Not only did the Carolina Panthers hold the worst record in football at 2-14, but the three other teams all had legitimate shots to make the playoffs including a Buccaneers team that won just three games the season prior to that. The Saints were the reigning Super Bowl Champions and the Falcons were the best team in the NFC. However, when it came to playoff time, both teams were eliminated in the first match. It seems like every year one team from the NFC South comes by surprise to make some noise. Who will that be this year?

4. Carolina Panthers

Out of all the poorly performing teams last season, I may have the most faith in the Carolina Panthers. Their dynamic rushing duo of Jonathon Stewart and DeAngelo Wiliams will allow a fluid transition for rookie quarterback Cam Newton. Moreover, I loved what they did by re-signing Charles Johnson and their entire linebacker corp. Obviously there’s a lot of work yet to be done, but this is certainly a step in the right direction.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers really impressed me last season, and quarterback Josh Freeman in particular. I don’t think he’ll replicate those numbers again, but he could be a solid starter.

I just don’t have enough faith that their youth can carry the load, and their lack of experience will be exposed when they are the hunted as opposed to the hunters. Especially in a division like this, it’ll be tough to compile a double-digit win season again. But I’ll tell you this, that if Adrian Clayborn and Da’Quan Bowers can pan out, then it’ll give them one of the most dominant young defensive lines in the league.

2. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons made big splashes namely becoming ‘more explosive’ with Julio Jones, but I thought it was unnecessary. I understand that Roddy White got all the attention, but they could have settled for a B-grade receiver instead of going all in on this one player. And I realize it would’ve been difficult but the two players drafted ahead of him, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson, were the only players worthy of such a trade.

Considering the fact that their porous defense, which allowed 48 points to the Packers, was the one most responsible for the loss, I question why they decided to improve an offense that already had the fifth highest scoring total in the league.

That aside, the rest of the team is solid and I commend them on signing Tyson Clabo and Ray Edwards, but I just don’t feel that this defense is on par with the other championship caliber ones.

1. New Orleans Saints

Sure the New Orleans Saints got ousted in the playoffs by the lowly Seattle Seahawks, but they return determined. Despite the loss of Reggie Bush, the Saints returned most of their offensive starters and replaced Bush’s explosiveness with Darren Sproles. Even though he won’t bring the same big-name personality, he adds similar value on the field.

Everything else in the offseason from drafting Cameron Jordan and Mark Ingram in the 1st round to signing Aubrayo Franklin to solidify the defensive line, the Saints have been on a mission to ensure that they aren’t humiliated again.


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