It is baseball season, but there are plenty of ways to get your fill of football too. Our own Hank Koebler, IV is on the beat making his way across the NFL landscape exhaustively covering team after team. These previews will get you up to snuff with everything you need to know about the transition to each 2010 team.
Each preview covers the team's outlook and projection for the 2010 season. We've got in depth coverage of each team's offense, defense and special teams. We'll cover who's in and who's out, rookies, players in their prime and savvy veterans. Finally, we'll look at strategy and style of play on both sides of the ball, as well detailed information about coaches and players.
Check back often between now and the September 9th season kick-off as new team previews are going up almost every day. Clicking on the NFL Football in the right sidebar will take you right to the latest previews each time you come back.
Today Hank is previewing the NFC South teams, the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
AFC South Predicted Finish
- New Orleans Saints
- Atlanta Falcons
- Carolina Panthers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Saints are going back to the playoffs, though the Falcons will fight them tooth-and-nail for the divisional title. Due to an easier schedule, the Falcons might even win the division, but none of that matters once the playoffs start. As the offensive linemen continue to get used to playing together, the running game will get even better than it was last year, which in turn will create even more opportunities for the Saints' aerial attack to exploit. On defense, the loss of Charles Grant is the biggest concern, but coordinator Gregg Williams' defensive strategies should be able to compensate for the loss of Grant in most instances. That being said, the Saints would definitely benefit from one of their new defensive ends having a career year, especially once they're in the playoffs. The play of their defensive ends opposite Will Smith will determine whether the Saints repeat as Super Bowl champions or go home after the first round of the playoffs.
This team could have been a Super Bowl contender last year if it weren't for a slew of injuries to key players. Over the offseason, they continued to improve, and with a healthy Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, and Peria Jerry, this team could make a deep run in the playoffs this year. When deciding whether the Falcons or Saints would win the decision, the edge was given to the defending Super Bowl champions. However, it is highly likely that both the Saints and the Falcons make it into the playoffs regardless of who wins the division. One area the Falcons could struggle in is the establishment of a pass rush against top-tier offenses, but if John Abraham returns to form and Peria Jerry and Corey Peters bring the pressure they're expected to, then this team will be nearly unstoppable.
This team isn't a bad team at all. They've got almost all the pieces to be successful, and they're in the process of an almost seamless transition to a younger core of talent on their team. This is the “almost” year of that almost seamless transition, though. They're in a division with two of the best offenses in the entire league, and will have to play four divisional games against legitimate Super Bowl contenders, which makes it a lot harder for them to achieve a great record. However, they should not be regarded as pushovers at all, as this divisional race will be one of the closest in the NFL. This is an incredibly close three-way battle for the division championship, but the Falcons' and Saints' passing attacks give them just the tiniest edge over the Panthers.
The Buccaneers drafted more immediate-impact players this year than most teams take in two, and that will probably at least double their win total from last season. It won't be enough to lift them in the brutal NFC South, but it will help them in the future. This team has a core of young players about to enter their prime, and if the Buccaneers make it a priority to offer extensions to their 2011 free agents, they could be only a year or two away from contending for the NFC South title. While this year might be another frustrating one for Buccaneers fans, there will at least be reason for optimism about next year. - Hank Koebler, IV
Hank is a sports journalist attending the University of Missouri's school of journalism.
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