2024 Division Preview: NFC South

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NFC East (and Introduction)

NFC North

1. Atlanta Falcons

I really didn’t want to pick the Falcons to win the division. I’ve felt they’ve been overhyped for a while. But the NFC South is so incredibly bad, I couldn’t in good faith put any other team above them. They may be mediocre, but that’ll be good enough to host a playoff game. 

It seems like there are two major misconceptions about the Falcons driving their hype. One is Cousins. He’s clearly better than Ridder (which is why I have them improving), but as an old man coming off an Achilles injury you can never truly count on him to be the same guy he was before. And even then it’s not like he was ever an elite quarterback anyway.

Secondly, the Falcons weapons are more hype than production. Darnell Mooney is a nice addition, I was advocating for the Chiefs to sign him. But I only wanted him because I thought Hollywood Brown was unrealistic, and I viewed him as a budget 3rd option behind Rice and Kelce. 

Atlanta’s version of Rice and Kelce aren’t nearly as scary, despite their high draft status. Drake London has been decent, but in his 2 seasons he has not matched Rice’s rookie number of 938 receiving yards. Kyle Pitts has also failed to live up to his draft status. He had over 1,000 yards his rookie year, but has failed to put up even 700 yards either of the last two seasons. 

Despite the investment, the trio of Pitts, Mooney, and London is mediocre. That’d be fine if the Falcons had a quarterback like Mahomes. But instead they combine mediocre weapons with a mediocre quarterback, so mediocrity should be the expectation.

It’s a bit presumptuous, but if the NFC South is truly that bad again it would be making history. It’s one thing for a team to be bad for a really long time. But in a division with 4 teams it’s hard for all those teams to not occasionally accidentally be good. So I looked it up. If the NFC South Winner fails to win 10 games, it will be the first time in NFL history a division went 3 straight seasons without a team winning 10+ games.

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I know Mayfield was better than a lot of people thought, but I don’t understand why you’d give him a big contract. It’s just so hard to build a contender when you’re using $33 million in cap space every year on a quarterback like Mayfield. Minshew just signed for $12 million per year, is Mayfield really nearly 3x better than Minshew? I challenge anybody to say with a straight face that he is.

There’s just not much to say about Tampa Bay right now. They don’t seem to have any interest in building a contender, instead being content with winning a Super Bowl once every 20 years or so.

3. New Orleans Saints

The Saints are in the worst cap situation in the NFL. They’re already $60-$70 million over the cap in 2025. Part of that was signing Chase Young, putting $9 million of his 1 year/$13 million deal into a void year in 2025. 

Other than the fact that the Saints desperately need to start getting their cap under control instead of pretending like they’re real contenders and signing expensive players, I actually like the move. I’m apparently the only person on Earth who does, but when I watched every 49ers game in preparation for the Super Bowl, it was very noticeable how much better their defense became after they traded for him.

But at the end of the day New Orleans is in store for a long, painful decline until they finally give up and get their cap situation under control.

4. Carolina Panthers

In what was probably my worst pick, I had the Panthers winning the division last year. While I did have CJ Stroud as my top quarterback in that class, I thought Bryce Young would at least be decent. Instead he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL.

The Panthers lacked draft picks since they gave up so much to get Young, but they still invested in the offense around Young anyway. They really invested heavily in expensive guards while also upgrading Young’s weapons. The downside is that this came at the expense of the defense, where they saw a massive decline in their pass rush (most notably losing Brian Burns), but also losing pieces of their secondary as well.

It will be hard for them to avoid 12+ losses again this year unless Young takes a major step. The good news is that they’ll actually own their own 1st round pick this time, which may be used to replace Young if it’s in the top 5 again.

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Team Player
06/03/2024 1:47 pm

An impatient owner – what all of these teams have in common and also what is holding each back.

upamtn
06/03/2024 1:28 pm

Mayfield really is nearly 3x better than Minshew

there, I said it

I don’t actually BELIEVE it, but I said it … thus winning today’s challenge

please send Kettlecorn

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ok, my real actual thoughts are that Atlanta, Tampa Bay and New Orleans are all mediocre and none of them is clearly better than the other two … so the final order of teams seems like it’s going to be a matter of chance, or luck if you will: which team avoids injuries, which team gets “the lucky breaks” here and there, which team has a “breakout” star that nobody saw coming

if it wasn’t for the complete ineptitude of Carolina, the other 3 teams would be not only the TOP 3 in the division, they’d also be the BOTTOM 3 in the division

NovaChiefs
06/03/2024 12:46 pm

Ok. We’re finally to the NFC South.
That’s all I got. Carr and Cousins make Mayfield and Young look like they have potential, since the C’s are done and never were.
If they can convince the NFL to play the games on paper, the Saints and Falcons have a shot. Play them on the field, they end up 2nd and 3rd in that division

probablyamistake
Reply to  Tony Sommer
06/04/2024 11:09 am

That’s why I do the NFC first, to build up to the teams team we actually care about.

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