Division Winner: New Orleans Saints
Last season the New Orleans Saints were expected to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XLIX, however; those plans did not come to pass as the Saints finished the 2014 season with a 7-9 record. After having the 5th ranked defense in 2013, they regressed to a dismal 31st in 2014. To mitigate those issues, the Saints decided draft a plethora of talented players to solidify the defensive side of the ball.
On offense, they lost a crucial piece of their lineup in the tight end, Jimmy Graham. Back in March, the Saints traded Graham to the Seattle Seahawks, in return for center Max Unger. Unger, along with 1st round draft pick Andrus Peat will help solidify a Saints o-line that gave up a lot of big plays to opposing defenses last season. Due to the division being feeble the Saints will win the NFC South in 2015. If they want to go deep into the playoffs, running back, Mark Ingram must become a key contributor to the Saints offense, for that to happen.
The Carolina Panthers became the first team to win the NFC South two consecutive seasons in a row. The Panthers won the horrible NFC South with a losing record (7-8-1) however; at the end of the season the Panthers played like a team that had an over 500 record. The key to the Panthers success will be on the shoulders of Cam Newton and their vaunted defense.
But once again, the Panthers front office has failed to provide Cam Newton with the weapons that he needs, for the Panthers to compete with the upper echelon teams in the NFC. Their only deep threat on offense is wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin. In regards to the running game, Jonathan Stewart can provide a spark to the Panthers offense, however; he cannot stay healthy. My 2015 prediction for the Carolina Panthers is that they will make the playoffs, but will most likely lose another premier team in the NFC.
After years of underachieving the Atlanta Falcons finally decided to part ways head coach Mike Smith at the end of 2014. They decided to hire Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn will attempt to bring the Seahawks swagger to a Falcons team that have failed to live up to expectations. However, he does not have any of those of players on the Falcons roster that he had in Seattle right now.
There’s no one on the Falcons defense that brings fear into opposing quarterbacks. In the NFC South, you must have a defense that is willing to go blow for blow with quarterbacks such as Drew Brees and Cam Newton. My 2015 prediction for the Atlanta Falcons is that they will not make the playoffs, but I believe they will be a tough opponent for any team that they will face in 2015. Their defense is just not that good right now.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the right decision when they drafted quarterback Jameis Winston out of Florida State University. Winston is not afraid of being on the big stage, however; it is time for him to be humbled. I believe that once he receives some of those “welcome to the NFL” shots and four interception ball games, then we will witness a more mature Jameis Winston.
My 2015 prediction for the Buccaneers is that they will not make the playoffs or contend for the NFC South. The team has a few weapons on offense to win some ball games, but it will be Winston’s lack of experience at the pro level that will cost them a lot of wins this season.
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