While it is not the major market overload of the East, the NFC South features not only a collection of some of the best teams in the league, but also enough story lines to last a life time.From bounty-gate to the Bucs spending money faster than they can print it, it was a bit of a wild offseason down south. This year will be interesting as each of the teams face serious questions that could see the division standings flipped around from just a season ago.
Where to start? Well despite existing in the relative obscurity of South Carolina, Cam Newton has the potential to become the most dynamic pivot of our generation. The size of a defensive end with the speed, strength and running back. Mix in a cannon attached to his torso and you have a player that could put up fifty total scores this season.
But how good will the rest of the team be? Well the defence will be better as long as they can stay healthy. Cam has come out quite openly about his lack of maturity in his rookie season, and if he still performed at the level that he did in spite of questionable character, the sky is the limit if he can become a true leader on and off the field.
Sleeper team of the league? Could be the Panthers.
Next. The free wheeling Tampa Bay Bucs who are going for a quick fix after a disaster of a four-win season. Josh Freeman needs to get his game in order, and word is that a new offseason training regiment has him in the best shape of his career. While that is an age-old line that you hear after many players struggle on the field, Freeman has the tools at his disposal this year to turn the ship around in a hurry.
Vincent Jackson will be a legitimate downfield threat, Carl Nicks should hold the line together, Doug Martin could be Ray Rice 2.0 and Mark Barron has the potential to be a ball-hawking safety in a secondary that needs the help. If all falls into place, look out for Tampa.
It was just a year ago that the Atlanta Falcons were considered serious title contenders. A bold draft-day move for Julio Jones was hyped as the final piece of the equation. It was a solid season that ended in embarrassment at the hands of the G-men in the postseason.
So what have the Dirty Birds done to get over the hump? Well, not much. They hope that Jones will emerge as the stud wideout that he was touted as and the defence will hopefully give them a chance. Beware Atlanta fans, this season could go badly in a hurry.
Then there are the Saints. Headlines of bounties dominated the off-season headlines, but the most important personnel news came out just days ago when Brees inked his deal. So despite the fallout from Goodell's gavel, the Saints do actually have a season to play with or without a coach.
Distractions will be plentiful for the Saints, and the on-field product could suffer. How badly? Well Brees and Jimmy Graham will be on the field, so it shouldn't be too bad. But they are balancing precariously in a position where one untimely injury could derail the season before it gets going.
Points will be put up, headlines will be made and the NFC South will not go unnoticed.