Time to wrap up the NFC. The worst division in the conference features four teams, each with their own problems. The Falcons, Saints, Panthers and Buccaneers are in for a long year. Let’s go through them team-by-team.
Atlanta Falcons: 1st.
TE Kyle Pitts. WR Drake London. RB Bijan Robinson. These three players are the last three first round picks of the Atlanta Falcons, all drafted inside the top ten. Three skill position players on the offensive side of the ball with unique skill sets that will influence this offense. Not to mention their offensive line, which features one of the best guards in the game in Chris Lindstrom and offensive tackles Kaleb McGary and Jake Matthews. Their offense has all the tools to become a lethal unit. But then there’s QB Desmond Ridder. He is the weak link as of now, but I believe he can manage this offense well enough to lead them to a division title. They also signed one of the best available free agents in S Jessie Bates III to add to a defense that features CB AJ Terrell and defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Grady Jarrett. They have the most high-end talent in this division, and I believe that it will lead to them being the only playoff team from it.
New Orleans Saints: 2nd.
Then there’s the Saints. Still recovering from the loss of Drew Brees, their talent has not been able to take them to the playoffs since he retired. Derek Carr enters the fold this year, but what has he done in years prior to make me believe that he can turn the ship around? I do believe that they will have a breakout superstar in WR Chris Olave this year, but his talent may go to waste. They also have fallen stars in WR Michael Thomas and RB Alvin Kamara, but how many games will they play? Both players have been the definition of inconsistent since the departure of Brees. It is about consistency with the Saints, and I do not believe that they have any. They will not finish last, but they just don’t have the ceiling or momentum that Atlanta carries into the year.
Carolina Panthers: 3rd.
Apparently, they are a Super Bowl contender, according to Adam Thielen. The former Vikings receiver said that he would not have signed with them if he didn’t believe they had a realistic chance at making it. Well, Adam, I hate to break it to you but a rookie QB, new head coach, and very mediocre talent around them usually does not equal contenders. They are forced to be competitive due to the fact that they traded their 2024 first round pick to the Bears in their trade-up for Bryce Young. DE Brian Burns should help keep them relevant, he is the only player that will even be close to All-Pro level. Maybe in a few years, the prophecy of Thielen will come true, but not this year. I miss you Adam, you won’t look right in that silver and blue. 🙁
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 4th.
The Buccaneers easily had the biggest loss of the offseason, obviously. They looked bad last year at times, even with Tom Brady. Now, replace him with Baker Mayfield and try not to puke. That’s their reality now. Baker leads the way while Mike Evans and Chris Godwin try to hang onto their stardom. They do still have an upper-tier defense with LBs Lavonte David and Devin White, S Antoine Winfield Jr., and EDGE Shaq Barrett, but how good can a defense be if they are constantly on the field?
I do not think that any of these teams will be the worst in the league, the Cardinals have made that clear that the #1 pick is their property, but I do not expect a lot of good football games to come out of this division. Just watch how the Vikings demolish the Bucs in Week 1. Skol.
Header Photo: The Atlanta Falcons will be the feel-good story of the NFL this season, winning their division and winning their home playoff game. Against the Cowboys. 🙂 (Marta Lavandier/The Associated Press)
Write to Hayden Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org