Head Coach: Dan Quinn
Quinn will start his third year as Falcons’ Head Coach this season. An 8-8 season followed by last year’s heroic season going 11-5. Quinn is a defensive guru with a solid history with the Linemen but he was the Defensive Coordinator during legendary days of the Legion Of Boom in Seattle when they made back to back Super Bowls in 2013-2014. Amazing to think a man with this history of defensive excellence now has the largest blown lead in Super Bowl history tied to his name
2016 Record: 11-5
A bizarre season in which 3 out of their 5 losses came at home, The Falcons would finish top of the group and second in the NFC overall to gain a first round bye. They went on to beat The Seahawks and Packers with extreme ease before collapsing in the second half of the Super Bowl against the Patriots.
Draft Position: 31st traded to 26th with The Seahawks
Player To Watch: Vic Beasley
Beasley had a stunning second year in the NFL with 15.5 sacks and 6 forced fumbles. This year will be hard to match them numbers but he has the talent to do it especially with a Head Coach who knows the value of great defensive players and their impact on a game.
MVP: Matt Ryan
Matty Ice melted in the Super Bowl but before he got there, his numbers were outstanding. Just shy of 5,000 yards with 38 touchdowns through the air in the Regular Season. His Post-Season numbers were just as good with a smidgen over 1,000 yards, 9 TDs through the sky and 1 with his legs. Did I mention he didn’t throw a pick in the Playoffs or Super Bowl? Another year like that, please!
Super Bowl Chances: I’m Not Sure
There is just something I can’t put my finger that makes me feel that The Falcons missed the chance last year. Obviously, they lost in the Super Bowl but so many of their players to me feel like they a had once in a career season, asking them to repeat it will be a lot to ask.
Head Coach: Ron Rivera
Riverboat Ron’s Captain’s Chair must be feeling very warm at this stage. Entering year 7, he has had 2, yes 2, winning seasons in a dog’s dirt division. He has made the Playoff 3 years on the bounce and guided his team to a near perfect 15-1 season but that grace must be wearing thin at this stage
2016 Record: 6-10
After a spectacular 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance the previous year, big things were expected from the Panthers but it all fell apart in a big way, losing either by the smallest of margins or by being blown out of the water. Even the games they did manage to win weren’t against the best of teams either. The 15-1 season may as well have been a lifetime ago let alone the season before this one
Draft Position: 8th
Player To Watch: Greg Olsen
I have a soft spot of Olsen. One of the best Tight Ends over the last 5 years, Olsen has become an essential weapon for The Panthers. Cashing in with around 1,000 yards with a handful touchdown each of the last 5 year, it will be a sad day when he walks away and now, entering season 11, it may be coming soon
MVP: Cam Newton
Superman looked like he had a wedge of Kryptonite stuck up his Cadbury Ally last year. Throwing a near career low amount of TDs with a near career high INTs and running a career low amount of yards and TDs, The Incredible Super Bowl Sulk will want to write off last year and come back with his best.
Super Bowl Chances: Unsure
Someone has to win this crap division and they do have Playoff experience but it all depends on what Cam we see. If he spends most of his time moaning about how he’s not protected by officials and not actually being a team leader, they’ll suck again, without a question. If he shuts up and play like we know he can, sky’s the limit.
New Orleans Saints
Head Coach: Sean Payton
Season 10 beacons for the face of the Bountygate. 3 years of 7-9 bullshit would suggest a toasty rear end of Payton but he signed a 5-year extension prior to the 2016 season. Sometimes football doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
If you include pre-season, the saints opened last year losing 7 games in a row. The Saints would be patchy for the rest of the season and miss the Playoffs. Fun fact: At no point last year did The Saints have a winning record.
Draft Position: 11th
Player To Watch: Adrian Peterson
Former league MVP and forever child beater, AP will try and rebuild his career under the dome in New Orleans. Stats says he has had 10 seasons in the league but in reality he has missed 2 due beating his 4 year old kid with a makeshift whipping stick and injuries. There should be fuel in the tank and The Saints hope they can get some production out of him.
MVP: Drew Brees
I do not hold the poetic skill to accurately portray my admiration for Brees so I’ll give numbers. 11 years in a row he has gone over 4,000 yards with 5 of them years going over 5,000 yards. 54 games in a row with at least 1 TD. He is 3rd in career passing yards, pass completions, pass attempts, and career touchdown passes in NFL history, behind Brett Favre and Peyton Manning in each category.
Super Bowl Chances: I Can’t See It
With Brees being the exception, they just don’t seem to have a tonne of talent and haven’t really beefed themselves up anywhere. When Ted Ginn Jr is an upgrade, you know you’re in trouble but someone has to go to the Playoffs from this crap division.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Head Coach: Dirk Koetter
WIth a solid first season under his belt, Koetter will be expecting similar if not better from the Bucs this year. A former Offensive Coordinator, expect him to get the most from a talented corps of players
2016 Record: 9-7
In any other year, The Bucs would have been comfortably into the Postseason if it wasn’t for those pesky Falcons. A slow 1-3 start hampered them a little but The Bucs would recover to have their first winning season since 2010.
Draft Position: 19th
Player To Watch: O.J. Howard
The hype machine was in overdrive for this guy on Draft Night. He has had a good college career with some feeling he was underused in the Alabama/Nick Saban system. The 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship MVP, he will be watched very closely.
MVP: Jameis Winston
Possibly the best QB of the current generation Winston has talent by the truckload. The first pick in the 2015 Draft didn’t get off to the best start when his first pass was intercepted and ran home for a pick six. Two years in, he seems fine to me. A whisper over 8,000 air yards with just under 400 yards via his legs and a healthy return of 57 TD’s
Super Bowl Chances: Best Out Of This Division
Like I said, someone has to win this group and to me, the likeliest is The Bucs. A young enough team with talent, if they can tidy up their play a little and get some sort of ground game going, they will be in the Playoffs, after that, I don’t know.