I think this division is going to be a good one. This is it for my NFC predictions. Next week it's on to the AFC. Soon the season will be upon us and we can see how really useless pre-season predictions are. Wow that statement totally undermines everything that I'm about to write. Oh well.
Despite losing linebacker Will Witherspoon to the Rams (yes!) the Panthers still have plenty of studs left on defense. Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Rucker, Kris Jenkins, and Julius Peppers should drive QBs crazy as a defensive line and Dan Morgan and Mike Minter headline a decent group of linebackers and defensive backs. It's really the defense that has carried this team the past few years but they will need another solid year from QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith. If DeAngelo Williams and Deshaun Foster can make their running game a threat and Keyshawn Johnson can take a little pressure off Smith then the Panthers should be fine. Then again maybe they won't. The smart thing to do would be to pick these guys for the division, maybe even the Super Bowl. But my sister tells me I'm the stupid one in the family so of course I'm picking them to miss the playoffs.
Division Prediction: 2nd
Playoff Prediction: Just Miss
Tampa Bay Bucs
I like the Bucs. I think their defense is going to be really good and their offense better than it was last year. Both Simms and Carnell Williams should take another step in their progression and they will be in the hunt for the division title right until the end. That's when Gruden's head will explode and everything gets very messy. On second thought I think I'll pick them to win the division. They were 11-5 last year and Simms is out to prove that blonde is beautiful.
Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: won't get to the championship game
Another good defense makes this southern division loaded on that side of the ball. It's the Falcons offense that worries people. What Vick will we see? An exciting runner but otherwise mediocre QB that was exhibited last year? Or the exciting runner that played pretty well two years ago and has actually improved his touch and accuracy this year? I'm hoping for the latter. Warrick Dunn is aging but still is quick as a cat and has the moves that make him dangerous. He is the most underrated running back in the game today hands down. Crumpler is solid at TE and will save Vick many times like he did last season. Unfortunately it's another season missing the playoffs for the birds.
Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: on their couches
New Orleans Saints
How stoked are they that the Houston Texans are dumb asses? Reggie Bush is a real coup and although the Saint's line isn't good enough for the running game to really thrive, Bush is Bush so sometimes he doesn't need a line. Deuce McAllister will get plenty of carries also and I don't care if Brees is not fully healed, he will be better than the Aaron Brooks nightmare (how Brooks continues to be a starter is one of the great mysteries of our day. Sort of like crop circles. Oh wait...haven't they been proved to be a hoax?....hey!....just like Brook's career. ---Anyway, I'm a big Drew Brees fan. If he turns out to fully recover, his departure might be the biggest mistake the Chargers have ever made. Still, the Saints have a lot of holes in their defense and other areas and despite much improvement they are still a year away from competing for the division.
Division Prediction: last
Playoffs: Maybe next year