The draft has come and gone, with plenty of talking points coming out of it. We can now turn our attention to the start of the NFL season, whenever that may be, and look at who has the better chances to win each division on the way to the playoffs.
Tampa Bay has revamped their offense, with Jameis Winston heading to New Orleans for a career change after Brady moved to Tampa. Carolina moved into a new era without Cam Newton, while the Falcons have a point to prove after last season.
While you can not rule out the chances of Carolina or Atlanta causing a boilover in the division, the two obvious favorites are New Orleans and Tampa Bay. We’ve teamed up with our partners at The Inscriber and AOSN to preview what could be the most intriguing two games this season, so let’s get under way.
New Orleans Saints
Rob Whitney – The Athletes Hub
The Saints have been together much longer than the new look Bucs. If history has shown us anything, it’s that a collection of talent not used to playing with each other will take time to come together. New Orleans has added a few key editions that can fit in easily with no problem. Their biggest competition has a brand new quarterback and tight end.
Right now, Drew Brees is a better quarterback than Tom Brady. Much was made about Brady’s lack of help last year in New England, but let’s not forget the last time we saw him he threw a terrible pick-six at home. He is isn’t what he was and Brees, while not amazing, has been more consistent. The answer to who will win the NFC South is behind center.
When all is said and done, the Saints have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. At the same time, Brady isn’t spectacular on the road and hasn’t had to deal with an atmosphere quite like the Super Dome. If it comes down to a game in New Orleans for the division, the Saints are a lock.
Devon Withers – The Athletes Hub
At first glance, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made more ‘flashy’ signings in comparison to the Saints. However, New Orleans was able to construct a successful offseason as well. The front office managed to re-sign Drew Brees (two-year, $50M), Andrus Peat (five-year, $57.5M), and David Onyemata (three-year, $27M). In free agency, the Saints also brought in Malcolm Jenkins (four-year, $32) and Emmanuel Sanders (two-year, $16M).
Considering the Saints have the 24th-toughest schedule entering the 2020 season, meanwhile the Buccaneers rank 16th, the experience New Orleans has to date will matter. The Buccaneers are introducing a new quarterback and tight end into their system; both of whom are likely to come up short of their newfound expectations.
Forgetting about the offenses momentarily, what did Tampa Bay achieve in the offseason en route to slowing down their elite opponents in 2020 such as the Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, or Green Bay Packers? They placed the franchise tag on Shaq Barrett, re-signed role players on the defensive line, but lost out on several linebackers in the process. For a team that ranked
29th in scoring defense and 30th against the pass, the Saints have ranked 13th in scoring defense and 20th against the pass.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Robert D. Cobb (Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine)
If landing six-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady wasn’t enough to put them over the top, then trading for his colleague in three-time Super Bowl Champion tight end Rob Gronkowski makes Tampa Bay a real problem for New Orleans.
If both Brady and Gronkowski can resemble the players they were during their Super Bowl days in Foxboro, the Buccanners may have stumbled upon a proverbial treasure chest of talent capable of helping them lift their second Vince Lombardi. In addition to Brady and Gronkowski, the Buccaneers boast two 1,000-yard receivers in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a suddenly-stacked tight end corps that consists of OJ Howard and Cameron Brate and tailback Ronald Jones.
On defense, the Bucs keep the NFL’s top rushing defense mostly intact led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebackers Shaq Barrett and Devin White. Tampa also upgraded in the draft by trading up for arguably the best pure left tackle in Tristan Wirfs, one of the top safeties in the nation in Antoine Winfield Jr, running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and one of the biggest steals in the draft in wide receiver Tyler Johnson out of Minnesota.
With their additions on offense, defense and the draft, look for the Bucs to not only challenge the Saints for divisional supremacy, but come out as NFC Champions.
Alexandro Zatarin – AOSN
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are primed for their first division title and playoff appearance since 2007. The addition of long-time New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady is just the tip of the iceberg for an organization starved for success.
In acquiring one of Brady’s trusted targets from New England in Rob Gronkowski, while also keeping O.J. Howard, the Bucs are signaling their commitment towards putting a competitive product on the field.
The offense had already presented itself as a high-octane attack under Jameis Winston, good for tops through the air and third in overall production. This Bruce Arians-run offense will feature two receivers, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and a tight end capable of 1,000-plus yard seasons. With Brady at the helm the Bucs go from a quarterback that gave up 30 interceptions to just eight last season.
What may be the biggest benefactor of quarterback play is the defense. The Bucs were successful in creating turnovers with 26, fifth most in the NFL. However, that was countered with an offense that gave up a league-most 41 turnovers. With a quarterback that is nowhere near to turnover prone like Winston was, the defense could see a statistical improvement by spending more time on the sideline and staying fresh.
Not mentioned yet is the Bucs addressing two of their biggest needs going into 2020 through the draft: Offensive tackle and running back. In taking Iowa tackle Tristan Wirfs in the first round, backs Ke’Shawn Vaughn from Vanderbilt and Raymond Calais from LSU in the third and seventh rounds, respectively, this team has built itself as a challenger in the NFC South.
In short, a bolstered team that was good enough to go 7-9 last season is bound to surpass the likes of the New Orleans Saints in the south.