The NFC South came fairly close to having 3 teams in the post season in 2010 and the same three teams are all potential playoff candidates again in 2011. In fact the whole division looks to have improved and it is distinctly possible that the eventual Superbowl winner will come from the South. Picking a finishing order looks mighty tricky however this is our guess.
1 New Orleans Saints 11-5
The 2009 Superbowl Champions made the post season in 2010 but surprisingly lost to the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card game. They have a slightly easier looking schedule in 2011 and appear to have strengthened the team despite some high profile departures. Their offense looks well balanced and they are stacked at running back despite the departures, which will allow for some rotation in games. Defensively they look a bit thin and if injuries strike they could suffer going int the post season, however they are likely to try and use their high octane offense to good effect and they should be good enough to go deep into the post season.
2 Atlanta Falcons 11-5
The Falcons were the no1 seed in 2010 but found the Packers way too good in the divisional game, succumbing to a 48-21 thashing at the Georgia Dome. Their answer to this – effectively “mortgage the farm” to add an extra WR threat in the shape of Julio Jones? No upgrading the pass rush or strengthening the lines for them. So they now have one of the most impressive offensive lineups when you add Jone to Roddy White, Matt Ryan, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner. They should blow the lesser teams away and with a fairly easy schedule they should at least grab a Wild Card. Whether their offense is enough to carry them to a Superbowl remains to be seen, and with a lot less draft pick available in the coming seasons they better hope everyone stays healthy.
3 Tampa Bay 9-7
The Buccs had a great 2010, despite missing the post season. They have a young squad a great QB in the making and a formidable looking defense starting to form. Put them in an easier division (like the NFC West) and they would be playoff bound. However in this company we feel they are still a season away from fully competing and a credible finish is what they can expect. It is doubtful if 9-7 will make the playoffs, however its possible given a lot of teams will end up with records around this mark given the Conference looks very competitive this year.
4 Carolina Panthers 3-13
The Panthers had a poor 2010 and it was problems all over the field which led to their 2-14 record rather than any one area. This wont be put right in a single season and the best the Panthers can hope for is an improvement. We cant see them winning many games but hopefully they will play tough and pick up at least 3 wins.