My friend and I were talking about the most competitive division in the NFL earlier today so I figured I might as well breakdown the one we came up with as toughest in the league. This conclusion is based on all 4 teams in the division being serious competitors this season and we came up with the NFC South as the winner. Now the AFC North was also in contention because they too have 4 very good and extremely competitive teams, however, we felt like the NFC South had more talent this season.
New Orleans Saints – Right now they are the division leaders at 10-3 and have shown that they basically have the complete package with a lethal offense and a defense that has the ability to make big plays and keep opposing offenses off the field. Drew Brees is the ultimate quarterback and with targets like Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Devery Henderson, and Robert Meachem, his life is much easier than it could be. Their 4 outstanding running backs regularly get touches in the backfield are Mark Ingram, Pierre Thomas, Chris Ivory, and Darren Sproles. Jimmy Graham has come through with astonishing numbers this season and as established a spot as the best tight end in the NFL in my opinion. Their defense showed signs of struggling early in the season but have really pulled themselves together to make this team truly remarkable.
Atlanta Falcons – Probably one of the most underrated teams in the league, the Falcons are second in the division at 8-5. Matt Ryan is their young captain at quarterback and although their offense hasn’t been as dynamic as last year, expect big things to continue from him. Roddy White and Julio Jones are one of my favorite wide receiver duos to date and are a great veteran/rookie pair. Tony Gonzalez is getting older but has shown no signs of slowing down as he continues to be an extremely reliable target. Michael Turner is the third leading rusher in the league and a back that most people overlook. John Abraham is a seasoned veteran at the DE position and keeps this defense heads up with the help of Curtis Lofton who is among the league leaders in tackles this season. Like I said, the Falcons fly under the radar and can surprise teams who decide to sleep on them.
Carolina Panthers – After a nightmare season last year the Panthers are tied for 3rd in the division at 4-9 and with the acquisition of Cam Newton, may start to turn some heads in seasons to come. If anyone was questioning whether Newton would live up to the hype, check the season stats, this man’s a record breaker and setter. Steve Smith is still one of the best receivers in the game, not to mention one of the fastest. Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams are a terrific 1-2 punch in the backfield and round out this offense. If the Panthers have one problem, it’s on defense. They give up the most fantasy points to running backs which may seem like a silly stat to some people, but it does translate to getting dominated in real game. If they want to be a division contender in the future, it starts there.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – One of my biggest disappointments on the year is probably these guys. The Bucs showed great signs of success last year but are tied with the Panthers at the bottom at 4-9. Josh Freeman is a good young quarterback who shows pure strokes of genius at some times, but is too hot and cold to be able to carry this team to the top already. Inconsistency is a word I associate a lot with Tampa Bay because they have had amazing games this year and they have had horrible games. They need to stay more consistent next season, and try to make every game count, not just the big ones.
Why the NFC South is tougher than the AFC North: