The NFC South is one of the NFL’s wildest, most competitive divisions on an annual basis. That’s great if you’re a fan of football, but it’s not always great if you’re a fan of one of the teams in this division fighting tooth and nail for the crown.
It looks like 2017 will be another banner year for the NFC South, with the Falcons and Panthers each boasting only a single loss thus far, and the Saints and Buccaneers showing flashes of competence that make them far better than the cellar dwellars in most other divisions.
But who are the best and worst teams in the division right now?
The Best: Falcons
I’ll gladly take my abuse from Panthers fans here. Carolina is loaded with talent, but they’re also a little weak at wide receiver and tight end without Greg Olsen, their offensive line is an extreme mixed bag, and the secondary has terrific pieces but can be attacked if you can get enough time in the pocket to do so. I was more down on them than I should have been heading into the year, but they’ll fight hard until the finish.
That said, are they more talented than the Falcons? I’d say no. I’d also suggest that they’re much more likely to run into issues on offense than Atlanta, given their recent track record on that side of the ball. I’d suggest that the talent gap, all things equal, will put the Falcons in a better position to win the South. We’ll see if that holds true, but the Falcons have the better ground game, receiving corps, offensive line, arguably linebackers, and certainly secondary and special teams. It should be enough.
The Worst: Saints
Based solely on the performance we’ve seen to this point, it seems likely either the Buccaneers or Saints will wind up in the basement. The Buccaneers have more talent top to bottom than New Orleans, however, and are thus more likely to be able to right the ship a bit.
I say that knowing full well that Jameis Winston is prone to overthrows and backbreaking interceptions, the team does not appear particularly well-coached, and they’re still lacking a standout pass rush. A team with a number of playmakers and a solid defense can still contend, especially in an extremely uneven 2017 NFL.
The Saints, meanwhile, still have one of the league’s worst defenses, and it’s one that is dealing with injuries at the moment, as well. Their offense remains dynamic and fearsome on its worst days, which will keep them in games, but their defense just doesn’t figure to be able to shut down any teams with competent offenses, and there are three of them in the division alone. They may or may not finish 7-9, but they are my pick for the worst team in the division.
Who is yours?