Despite Chaos, Saints Still Class Of NFC South
By: Pat Williams
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Yes, the New Orleans Saints (13-3 last season) and their fans have endured the most chaotic offseason in recent memory. I don’t feel the need to rehash all that went on other than how, potentially, it may affect the 2012 Saints on the field.
First of all, losing Sean Payton for the entire season will hurt this team, period. Payton, one of the top-10 coaches in the NFL, is the brains behind the NFL’s most exciting and productive offense (sorry Green Bay), and his absence alone will cost this team at least 2-3 wins in 2012.
New Orleans, who led the NFL last season in scoring margin (208 points), must agree to a long term deal with Drew Brees...and fast. The last thing this organization needs is another distraction heading into the 2012 season. With all that being said, the Saints are 5/1 to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl. Prediction: 10-6
Atlanta will once again sneak into the playoffs and lose their opening round game. The Falcons are good, but not elite. Matt Ryan had a nice season last year, but not great. Julio Jones, who the Falcons traded the farm to acquire in last year’s draft, had his moments, but not enough of them playing 13 games with 54 receptions, eight of which went for touchdowns.
The Falcons have been very quiet this offseason and eventually must address replacing two of their aging stars, TE Tony Gonzales and RB Michael Turner. The recent acquisition of Asante Samuel from the Eagles should help fill up a hole in the secondary for new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Prediction: 10-6
Cam Newton’s record breaking rookie season is in the rearview mirror and now Carolina must look ahead with hopes of improving on last season’s 6-10 mark. As scary as it sounds, Newton will be better in 2012. Word out of Carolina is Cam has worked his ass off this offseason and is primed and committed to grow as an NFL quarterback.
Injuries devastated the Panthers defense in 2011, a defense which surrendered 429 points. When healthy, this defense played well. Did I mention Newton will be better in 2012? Prediction: 9-7
Tampa Bay can only get better. After surrendering a league worst 494 points in 2011, look for the Bucs to be very aggressive pursuing help on the defensive side of the ball via the draft.
The signing of former Charger WR Vincent Jackson will give QB Josh Freeman a solid deep threat and provide much needed leadership to third year WR Mike Williams, whose numbers slipped from his impressive rookie campaign in 2010 (65 receptions, 964 yards, 11 TDs). After losing 10 straight to close out last season, this young Tampa Bay roster desperately needs to get an early victory in 2012. Prediction: 6-10