Sports

How Every NFC South Team Can Make/Miss The Postseason


If you missed part 1 of our series, shame on you. You can find it here.

Onward.

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Will make the postseason if:

There’s any resemblance of improvement defensively. Okay, I lied. Defense needs to be leaps and bounds better, though to their credit they have improved and found themselves a bonafide corner in Delvin Breaux. That uptick must continue or else the Saints will keep staring at 7-9. Drew Brees is still a great QB, and by any measure one of the Top 10 in the league, but he’s not what he once was and can’t be the only cog in the offense. The WR core remains young and has room for improvement, Willie Snead had a great rookie season, catching 69 passes (102 targets) with just short of a 1,000 yard mark (984). One of the few disappointments for him was a lack of scoring output (3 TDs). He’s not a big guy by any means, but if he continues to improve, he’ll give division foes fits as he’s a tough guy to cover.

Will miss the postseason if:

The defense continues to play at mediocre levels and the offense is stagnant. Average play from Mark Ingram, multi-turnover games from Brees, defense giving up over 30 points per game. Basically, if there’s no growth in this team from a chemistry and schematic standpoint, then expect the Saints to march on home again for the postseason.

Freeman Spike

ATLANTA FALCONS

Will make the postseason if: 

Last year the Falcons celebrated 50 years of existence, and in a sense, their 50th campaign was a microcosm for their existence: a whirlwind of excitement and hope for the fandom, only to come crashing back to reality and squeak a few unnecessary wins at the end. The Falcons 6-1 start was borderline magical: complete with comebacks, exciting finishes and a blowout. They found their running back, Matt Ryan was hot, the defense was playing way above expectations and ability, what could have possibly gone wrong? Depth. Depth went wrong. Along with offensive ingenuity. The Falcons can get back to the postseason they so regularly were a part of prior to 2013 by re-committing to the run and not tying Matt Ryan’s hands with the playbook. That’s right, Kyle Shannahan has to let Matt run the offense in a way that is suitable and comfortable for Matt Ryan. Not the other way around. They’ve made the moves to beef up their defense and hopefully generate a consistent pass rush for the first time since the Patrick Kerney days. This team has the potential to win 10-12 games.

Will miss the postseason if:

They’ve also got the potential to lose 10-12 games. For every strength of this Falcons team, there’s a weakness hidden underneath. The offensive line was very shaky for most of the season and has been for quite some time, but the team feels they’ve finally gotten the lineup they’ve been looking for as of the final weeks of last year. They’ve signed Center Alex Mack during the Free Agency period to help shore up any other glaring marks. The Mohammed Sanu signing could end up being a disaster is Sanu remains as inconsistent with his hands as he has been in Cincinnati. That said, they’ve done a fantastic job to bolster the secondary by drafting safety Keanu Neal to compliment a bolstering unit that features one of the top corners in the league (Desmond Trufant). Deion Jones should be a nice addition to the front 7 as well.

Winston Bucs

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Will make the postseason if:

Jameis continues to mature at such a rapid rate. He became more confident with his decision making and actually showed signs of mastering Koetter’s offense. While I personally think it was a HUGE mistake by Tampa to dismiss Lovie Smith in fear of losing Koetter, it still works out for Winston as he is able to retain the same basic offensive philosophies. He better hope that Koetter is either fine with a few tweaks to his offensive system, or not so overbearing on his new OC that there becomes a rift. Basically this team is as good as Jameis is, and with a defense that should be big on causing turnovers, the Buccaneers have a REALLY good chance to surprise some people this season.

Will miss the postseason if:

Jameis regresses or defensively they’re just not good enough. I see this division being a 3-way race late into the year between Carolina, Atlanta and whoever wins the season series between Tampa and New Orleans. While it will be tight all the way through, it’s going to be between Tampa and New Orleans when it comes to one of the teams falling out of the pack.

Cam Newton Da
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Will make the postseason if:

I think a lot of us are on the same page here: if Cam Newton’s 2015 campaign was indicative of what he has become as an NFL QB, then Carolina has just as good a chance as anyone else to make a postseason run. For one, they ARE the defending conference champions, so until proven otherwise, they are the odds on favorite to make it back to the NFC Championship in my opinion. Add to that the fact that Cam gets his #1 target back in Kelvin Benjamin and you have an offense that should be even more dynamic than its previous installment. Just imagine Cam with a WR who can consistently catch. Oh, and that defense is pretty good.

Will miss the postseason if:

Last year’s campaign was pure “magic”, and by that I mean Cam isn’t able to raise this team’s level of play above where it should be. Let’s be real, this is not the most talented offensive unit in the league. By far. Especially once you remove Cam from the discussion. But you can’t do that, because Cam IS part of the package of what you have with this team. If he continues his elite play, those around him SHOULD continue to flourish with him, and I don’t see his game falling back down to Earth. He’ll have studied how Denver shut him down and apply it accordingly.

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