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2021 NFC South Preview

Predicted Order of Finish

NFC South

1. Tampa Bay- after winning his 7th Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers what could QB Tom Brady possibly do for an encore, entering in his 22nd season there are no signs of him slowing down after throwing for 5,694 yards and 50 touchdowns in 20 games last year, the offense should once again flourish after resigning RB Leonard Fournette,TE Rob Gronkowski, and WR Antonio Brown, entering 2021 Brady should be even more comfortable in his second year in HC Bruce Arians’ system , the defense should once again sit atop the NFL after finishing 1st in rush yards allowed and 4th in sacks last year, everyone returns up front including tackle Vita Vea who missed most of last year after breaking his leg in Week 5, the linebackers added more depth after drafting Joe Tryon in the first round, the secondary gave up 246.6 yards per game thru the air but came up big in the biggest moments forcing key turnovers all throughout the playoff run, Carlton Davis III is a shutdown cornerback, until someone beats the GOAT they remain the favorites

2. Atlanta- the Falcons cleaned house after a 4-12 finish, gone are former Coach Dan Quinn and GM Thomas Dimitroff, QB Matt Ryan however remains the face of the franchise at least for another year, in comes Arthur Smith who helped elevate Ryan Tanehill’s career in Tennessee, the passing game which ranked 5th in the NFL should continue to thrive with WR Calvin Ridley eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark in 2020 along with Julio Jones who still remains a threat to opposing defenses entering his 11th season, first round pick TE Kyle Pitts will give Ryan and the offense another dimension, the offensive line allowed 41 sacks last year and will have competition for starting spots after the team spent two of their first five draft picks on linemen, the defense has struggled in recent years and under the new guidance of longtime coordinator Dean Pees hopes to see major improvement after finishing 19th in scoring and dead least in passing, the secondary will look much different with the addition of free agents Duron Harmon and Erik Harris along with second round pick Richie Grant at safety, Pro Bowler defensive tackle Grady Jarrett leads the D-line along with end Dante Fowler Jr., the addition of Brandon Copeland should strengthen an already formidable linebacker unit, the franchise needed a change and could be one of the NFL’s biggest surprises of 2021 barring any major injuries

3. New Orleans- the illustrious 15 year career in New Orleans has come to an end for QB Drew Brees, Jameis Winston will run the show after playing sparingly behind Brees last year, WR Emmanuel Sanders is gone but a healthier Michael Thomas who battled an ankle injury last year returns as one of Winston’s top targets, RB Alvin Kamara continues to shine making his fourth straight Pro Bowl in 2020 rushing for 932 yards while piling up 756 yards receiving, the O-Line should once again be a strength, the defense was top of the line last year however must replace DE Trey Hendrickson, DT Malcom Brown, LB Kwon Alexander, and CB Janoris Jenkin, plenty of talent still remains with DE Cameron Jordan returning after registering 7 sacks, Demario Davis is a solid veteran linebacker and will be joined by rookie second round pick Pete Werner, Marshon Lattimore leads the secondary which ranked first in interceptions last year, how do you replace Drew Brees… you don’t, there will be a drop off the question is how much

4. Carolina- the Teddy Bridgewater era is over as the Panthers moved in another direction trading for former 3rd overall pick QB Sam Darnold, second year HC Matt Rhule hopes under a new system and coordinator Darnold will finally be able to showcase his skills that made him a can’t miss prospect coming out of USC, WR Robby Anderson who lead the team in receptions and yards last year will once again be catching passes from Darnold after spending time together with the Jets, RB Christian McCaffrey is one of the league’s premier backs but missed 13 games in 2020 with numerous injuries, he will be joined by fourth round pick Chubba Hubbard who will serve as a viable insurance policy for the often injured McCaffrey, there weren’t too many bright sports on defense for a once dominant unit under former coach Ron Rivera, the secondary gets a big upgrade with first round draft pick Jaycee Horn moving in at cornerback, defensive end Brian Burns is the team’s top pass rusher and looks to improve on his 16.5 sacks the previous 2 seasons, the pass rush which ranked 23rd in the league in 2020 will get a big boost from linebacker Hasson Reddick who recorded 12.5 sacks with Arizona last year, if Darnold can limit the mistakes and McCaffrey stays healthy the Panthers could contend for second place in the South

Buy- Atlanta

Sell- New Orleans

Best Bet- Atlanta OVER Total wins

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