1.) Carolina Panthers 12-4
Following up on last year’s success is the current challenge for Carolina. The offense remains the same and Cam Newton is a monster. Where Carolina will get exposed is in the secondary. They let Josh Norman walk and they drafted a lot of rookies to try and replace him. I’m expecting the secondary to give up some big plays and Cam is going to have to work harder to come away with his victories this year.
2.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8-8
Jameis and the Bucs should take a step forward this season. Mike Evans is a big WR that can be the real deal and they have a couple of good RBs they can rely on. The defense was another issue with a lack of a pass rush and needing to secure up the CB spot. They did that this offseason and with the bottom half of this division being pretty weak, Tampa has a shot at a winning record.
3.) Atlanta Falcons 7-9
The emergence of Devonta Freeman last year was big for Atlanta giving them another option outside of the Julio Jones and Matt Ryan duo. The line wasn’t great and adding Alex Mack to center should improve all of that. Defensively the Falcons need better pressure on the QB and to shore up the secondary. Like the Bucs there are some pieces there but outside of that it is just another average team.
4.) New Orleans Saints 6-10
Drew Brees is outstanding in his performances at his age. It looks like he turned the clock back ten years when he is on the field. The Saints also got him a new TE in Coby Fleener to help replace Graham after he struggled with not having a great TE last year. The offense isn’t the worry for the Saints, it is the defense. They were by far the worst defense in the NFL. They are still pretty bad. Another season of shootouts is coming but the defense will cost them the majority of their games.
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