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Predicting the NFC South, It is never too early to start

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It is never too early to start making predictions. What better place to start predicting than within our own division? 
Here are some quick facts:

  • The NFC South had a combined 40 wins last season. That was the most wins out of any Division in the NFL last season
  • In 2008, our division competed against the NFC North who had a combined win total of 25
  • In 2009, our division will be facing the NFC East who had the second best division win record in the NFL last season (go figure) with a total of 38 wins and tie.

 Join me after the jump where I'll be breaking down the schedules of every team in the division.  This is an excellent opportunity to discuss how well you think the other teams in the NFC South will fair against their schedules.  How many wins you think it will take to win the division?  Who is our biggest rival going to be this season?

Some quick notes before we hit my lists to explain my predictions.  In my opinion, Atlanta has made the most significant offensive improvements this offseason but our defensive changes are what make the team a gamble.  Carolina just flat out hasn't changed much but unfortunately for them, their schedule has.  New Orleans has made some significant defensive improvements with a solid offense that hasn't changed.  Tampa Bay is definitely in the huge gambling stage on both sides of the ball... where I think they are going to surprise some teams, they are going to get dominated by others.  Oh... and all these predictions are assuming all these teams are going to remain healthy for the entirety of the season (which is unlikely, but for predictions sake, it's how they are going to stay).

aaaaaand, here we go
* = won their division in '08

ATLANTA FALCONS

Prediction 10-6

Week Game '08 Record My Prediction Explanation
1 MIA *11-5 W This game is really going to test our new defense while the Dolphins come out with their new style of offense.  I think our offense is going to be able to put up bigger numbers by the time the game is said and done with though. 
2 CAR *12-4 W Carolina couldn't beat us in the GA Dome last season and they aren't going to be able to start doing so this season.  The Falcons should be able to put up points early and force the Panthers to rely on their passing game.  Steve Smith will be their biggest playmaker, but I don't think he'll be enough to score them the win.
3 @NE 11-5 L As much as I would love a win here... I just don't see it happening.  Tom Brady is going to look as good as he did in 2007.  Belichick makes that team and he still hasn't gone anywhere.  I bet both teams scores are at least in the high 30s though.
4 Bye
5 @SF 7-9 W Depending on Crabtree's development, he's going to really try our questionable secondary but our pass rush should be solid enough to assure us a W against their questionable QB situation.
6 CHI 9-7 L We beat them by the grit of our teeth in the Georgia Dome last season, but their improving run game and now franchise QB are probably going to be too much for our developing secondary.
7 @DAL 9-7 W Dallas defense hasn't improved much this offseason and their offense didn't do much better.  Tony Romo is pretty 'hit or miss' as a QB.  I'm predicting he'll be a 'miss' in this game.
8 @NO 8-8 L The Saints are going to look good this year and in the Superdome, they probably won't have much trouble exploiting the weaknesses in our young defense.
9 WAS 8-8 W Albert Haynseworth isn't going to be enough to make this team much better than they were last season.  If the Falcons can control their running game, we should be able to seal a win through the air.
10 @CAR *12-4 W Carolina beat us early last season because our offense was still very much developing.  I don't forsee the same problems and if our team stays healthy to this point, I am presuming they are going to have developed enough to be more than solid.
11 @NYG *12-4 L The Giants are a very solid football team even without Plaxico.  Eli Manning is another QB that I think is very capable of exploiting the question marks on our defense even with a mean pass rush.
12 TB 9-7 W I don't think the Bucs will win many games next season.  Especially not this one.
13 PHI 9-6-1 L I am already predicting the Eagles are going to win the NFC East next season.  They are a solid team with a very solid defense.
14 NO 8-8 W They may beat us in the Superdome but they won't beat us in our Dome.
15 @NYJ 9-7 W Mark Sanchez should be labeled a bust by this point.  If he isn't, he still won't be good enough to match up against the Falcon's pass rush.
16 BUF 7-9 L Here is our surprise loss of the season.  In this scenario, Terrell Owens finally has found a home and out of nowhere Edwards has become a successful QB and the Bills somehow manage to best the Falcons on their home turf.
17 @TB 9-7 W Tampa Bay's team is still loaded with question marks and they still can't find a way to beat the Falcons.  At least they'll get to pick early in the draft.

 

 

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Prediction 11-5

Week Game '08 Record My Prediction Explanation
1 DET 0-16 W By some miracle, Detroit may have managed to create a football team in one offseason, but that team is still going to take some time to develop and it isn't going to have happened by this point.  At least the Lions will look darn flashy in their new uniforms when the Saints start working on their ungodly high passing numbers.
2 @PHI 9-6-1 L The Eagles are looking really great for 2009 and they are going to look even better on their own turf.  The Saints aren't going to be able to bring in a win in Philly.
3 @BUF 7-9 W Edwards is going to make Malcom Jenkins Pepsi's Defensive Rookie of the Week in this game.
4 NYJ 9-7 W Everyone in NY might still have faith that Sanchez might still be able to develop into a franchise QB but he won't show it in this game.
5 Bye
6 NYG *12-4 L The NYG are going to be continuing to prove that with their solid run game and an ever-improving Manning brother, they don't need Plaxico to be a championship caliber team.
7 @MIA *11-5 L Miami lost to the last NFC South team they played, but they aren't going to let themselves lose in Miami.  They are going to surprise the league with a win here.
8 ATL 11-5 W Atlanta is going to put up a fight and the score is going to be through the roof for both teams, but the Saints are going to score their W in their own Dome.
9 CAR *12-4 W Carolina swept the Saints last season, but it isn't going to happen again this season.
10 @STL 2-14 W I actually envy the Saints for getting this easy of a schedule.  The Rams aren't going to get their upset.  Another W for the Saints.
11 @TB 9-7 W TB can't even manage to beat a Division opponent in Tampa.  Poor guys...
12 NE 11-5 L Tom Brady will exploit the Saints questionable secondary and make Malcom Jenkins look like a rookie like no other QB had managed to do up to this point of his phenomenal rookie season.
13 @WAS 8-8 W Haynesworth may be able to hold the Saints running game to negative yards, but Drew Brees will answer with over 400 passing yards and a W.
14 @ATL 11-5 L Come on Saints fans.  You don't really think you'll be beating us in the Dome this year do you?
15 DAL 9-7 W Dallas has imploded by this point of the season yet again.  After realizing they aren't going to be able to make a run for the playoffs, fits are going to be thrown and the team is going to continue to progressively decline.
16 TB 9-7 W Poor Tampa Bay.  They never stood a chance.
17 @CAR *12-4 W Carolina makes quite the ball game out of this one and with New Orleans' hopes of still being able to win the division it is going to be a monster shootout and the Saints are going to score the W by the grit of their teeth.

 

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Prediction 8-8

Week Game '08 Record My Prediction Explanation
1 PHI 9-6-1 L The Eagles exotic pass rush and ever-improving defense is going to be too much for even the Panther's run game.
2 @ATL 11-5 L Peria will get his first professional sack on Jake Delhomme and Trey Lewis is going to prove himself as an elite run-stopper.  After the score starts to stack on the Panthers, they are going to try to answer through the air, but it won't be enough to bring them close to a W.
3 @DAL 9-7 L Morale will be low for Carolina and Dallas is still going to look sharp in their new stadium.  The game will be close, but Dallas is going to come up with the win.
4 Bye
5 WAS 8-8 W Washington is going to be in the market for new management by the end of the season.  They'll already be talking about it at this point, Carolina scores their first win.
6 @TB 9-7 W Poor Tampa Bay just can't manage to beat anyone in this division.
7 BUF 7-9 W Buffalo isn't going to have what it takes to beat Carolina in their own stadium.
8 @ARI *9-7 W Arizona was lucky to make a run for the superbowl last season, but their defense won't be able to answer Carolina's powerful run game.
9 @NO 8-8 L New Orleans is going to be a good team this season, even better in the Superdome.
10 ATL 11-5 L This will be a close game and make Falcons fans question our run defense, but in the end, the Falcons will prevail.
11 MIA *11-5 W Miami's offense is going to be running out of tricks and Carolina's dominant run game is going to be more than enough to secure them a W
12 @NYJ 9-7 W Carolina's aging QB proves to still be more valuable than the Jets rookie who should probably be getting benched by this point of the season.
13 TB 9-7 W Tampa Bay isn't going to get any surprise upsets in the division this season.
14 @NE 11-5 L New England is still looking incredibly solid at this point in the season and the Panthers are just outmatched.
15 MIN *10-6 W In this prediction, Minnesota was able to get Brett  Favre and 3 interceptions later, Carolina scores a W.
16 @NYG *12-4 L Another NFC East team that is just too much for the NFC South.
17 NO 8-8 L The Saints are too solid at this point of the season and have too much at stake to let Carolina steal a win from them here.

 

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Prediction 2-14
Disclaimer for Bucs fans: I promise you I am not trying to be biased against the Bucs... I just don't forsee them being much of contenders this season, they are very much rebuilding and I think their record will show it

Week Game '08 Record My Prediction Explanation
1 DAL 9-7 L Even if the Bucs do manage to see surprise success, they are still going to be outmatched by the Cowboys early in the season.
2 @BUF 7-9 L This game is going to give Bucs fans everywhere hope, but it won't be enough to bring in a W.
3 NYG *12-4 L The Bucs might manage to surprise people, but again, another team here where they are outmatched.
4 @WAS 8-8 L Haynesworth is going to be enough to strike fear in the eyes of whichever of their 5 QBs wins the starting spot.
5 @PHI 9-6-1 L Thoroughly outmatched away from their home stadium.  The Eagles get an easy W.
6 CAR *12-4 L A close game in Tampa, but Carolina comes out on top.
7 NE 11-5 L Do I really need to say it again?  Yeah... it's fun to say... outmatched.
8 Bye
9 GB 6-10 W Two young teams face off.  Tampa finally gets a win at home.
10 @MIA *11-5 L Tampa puts up a strong fight, but they still lose another one.
11 NO 8-8 L As hard as the Bucs try to score a win against a division rival, it still won't happen.
12 @ATL 11-5 L No win for the Bucs in the Georgia Dome this season.
13 @CAR *12-4 L Another division loss for the Bucs.
14 NYJ 9-7 W Two young teams face off and it almost looks like a ball game.  The Bucs are able to drag in another W and now they have to pick 2nd overall in the draft instead of 1st.
15 @SEA 4-12 L Houshmanzadeh and a healthy Hasselbeck prove to be quite the formidable combination and they continue their run for the playoffs.
16 @NO 8-8 L No winning in a Dome this season for the Bucs.
17 ATL 11-5 L As hard as the Bucs try for an upset, it doesn't happen here.

 

 

Well, there are my predictions, go ahead and use the lists as a reference and predict away.  If you would rather just tell me how much of an incompetent idiot I am for my predictions, that is also acceptable.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>

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