The NFC South is one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The division has several high profile quarterbacks and one that's in the final year of his contract. It will be a big surprise if two teams from this division make the playoffs so the outcome of the head to head meetings will be that much more significant. Here is how the NFC South will shake out.
Tampa Bay: 8-8
This is a make or break year for Josh Freeman. If he's not on his game the Bucs will struggle and most likely go in a different direction (Kirk Cousins) next year. The running game is solid with Doug Martin and the defense will be much improved with the addition of Darrelle Revis, but the Freeman to Vincent Jackson hook up needs to produce at least 12 touchdowns. If not they won't be able to keep up with the likes of Atlanta and New Orleans.
New Orleans: 10-6
Sean Payton is back. In his absence Drew Brees threw for 5,177 yard, but that was out of necessity more so than efficiency. Now that the coach is back there is more cohesion within the organization and less improvising. Drew Brees will still be productive, but he won't have to carry the team on his shoulders the whole season. With more balance and healthy players the Saints should return to the playoffs.
The Falcons were a few plays away from the Super Bowl last year, but teams don't pick up where they left off to start the new season. Certainly their offense is explosive with Matty Ice, Julio Jones, and Roddy White, but I'm not so sure they will have the same success this year. The team is a year older and in the past has shown inconsistency following a playoff run. The Falcons have the talent to make the Super Bowl, but not the mental toughness.
Make no mistake about it, Cam Newton is a star. He has the skill set to frustrate defenses and score a lot of fantasy points, but he can't do it all by himself. The backfield has been suspect with Johnathan Stewart and D'Angelo Williams and Steve Smith is on his last legs. Until they surround him with talent he will continue to be his own worst enemy. He'll make costly turnovers forcing plays simply because he's the only one on the team that can make big plays. The Panthers will show improvement, but this is not their year.