We are only 25 days away from the start of the 2020 NFL season and just four Sundays away from Sunday Night Football; Just enough time to rank the teams in each division, starting with the NFC South.
4. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers will be falling victim to a stacked division this year. Not even incoming quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be able to make Carolina a contending team this season.
This isn’t to say that Bridgewater can’t make some magic happen with offensive machines like RB Christian McCaffrey and WR DJ Moore at his disposal, however Bridgewater hasn’t led his own brigade since 2014 when he filled in for an injured Matt Cassel with the Minnesota Vikings.
He now enters an elite and experienced QB division with the Panthers heading into a transition year.
Because of the Panthers’ rebuild with Bridgewater, new head coach Matt Rhule and new offensive coordinator Joe Brady, there’s no fireworks to expect from this team just yet.
3. Atlanta Falcons
There is a large gap in talent when comparing Bridgewater and Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan.
Ryan has been with Atlanta for the past 12 seasons and has developed a rhythm with his offense. However, it’s not the offense that will be holding the team back this year.
The Falcons continue the theme of having a lackluster defense aside from players like OLB Dante Fowler Jr. and OLB Deion Jones. The defense has continuously forced the team to play scrappy and that won’t fly this season.
Eyes are locked on head coach Dan Quinn this year. If the Falcons have a less than stellar performance, Atlanta could be doing some shuffling to their leadership.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers can easily claw their way ahead of the Panthers and Falcons with Brady steering the ship. However, it’s not easy for anyone to learn a completely new playbook after 20 seasons of the same thing.
Brady announced that he would not be returning to New England during this past offseason. He has since moved on to take over Tampa Bay in his own style.
Arguably one of the best QBs the NFL has seen, Brady didn’t make the trip to Tampa alone. TE Rob Gronkowski came out of retirement to follow his quarterback.
What’s good about the Buccaneers coming into this season is that in 2019 the team finished just one game under .500. With the addition of Brady and Gronkowski, the hopes are that Tampa can be elevated to another level.
Just not to the top.
1. New Orleans Saints
New Orleans is hungry and they’ve got a big team to feed this year.
After putting up two back-to-back 13-3 seasons, there’s little reason that the Saints shouldn’t take the NFC South this year.
The Saints are marching into this year with one of the most competitive rosters in the NFL with QB Drew Brees entering season 15 with the team.
On offense, they have big names like RB Alvin Kamara, WR Michael Thomas, TE Jared Cook and newly added WR Emmanuel Sanders, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers. Defensively, the Saints have players such as DE Cameron Jordan, DT Marcus Davenport, OLB Demario Davis and recently signed DB Malcom Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles.
With Brees entering what could be his last year in the NFL, it’s Super Bowl or bust.
Photo: (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)