NFC South 2021-2022 Season Preview
With the NFL season right around the corner, it’s time to start making some predictions about how the year is going to shake out. Previously, I broke down the NFC East, predicting final records and giving one thing to watch for each team. Now it’s time to do the same for the NFC South.
Last year, the NFC South was essentially a two-team division. The New Orleans Saints came out on top with a 12-4 record, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming in second (and eventually winning the Super Bowl) after going 11-5. The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons were awful, going 5-11 and 4-12, respectively.
Without further ado, let’s get into some predictions.
1) Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Projected Record: 13-4
Last year, after a good but not great regular season, the Bucs absolutely tore through the NFC playoffs before dominating the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl. With pretty much the entire core returning this year, there is no reason that Tampa Bay can’t make a similar run this year and challenge for the Lombardi trophy.
Just like every year at this point in his career, one thing to look out for this season is whether Tom Brady will finally start to show his age. They say time is undefeated, but Tom Brady’s sheer dominance well into his forties seems to suggest otherwise. We’ll see if that changes this season.
2) New Orleans Saints - Projected Record: 10-7
When Jameis Winston was a full-time NFL starter, he threw for 5,109 yards and 33 touchdowns. Those are great numbers! He also threw 30 interceptions. That’s not such a significant number.
The biggest key to the Saints’ success this season is whether Jameis Winston can limit his turnovers. If he can, the Saints could easily be better than their predicted 10-7 record. If he can’t, things could get ugly.
3) Carolina Panthers - Projected Record: 5-12
The Panthers’ offense, to put it simply, absolutely needs Christian McCaffrey. After posting a league-leading 2,392 yards from scrimmage in 2019, McCaffrey only played three games in 2020 due to injury.
If the Panthers want a successful campaign this season, they need their dynamic rushing and receiving threat to stay healthy. Whether he does or not is something to look out for.
4) Atlanta Falcons - Projected Record: 3-14
Unfortunately for the Falcons, it does not look like this season will end up being very productive. Matt Ryan is aging, and trading away Julio Jones is a clear sign that this team is looking to rebuild or reload for the future. However, I will still be tuning in every week for one reason only: rookie tight end Kyle Pitts.
Kyle Pitts may just end up being the best player from the 2021 draft. He is a dynamic receiving threat at the tight end position and a nightmare matchup for opposing teams. He has the height and weight of a tight end at 6’6 and 246 pounds, but the agility, speed (Pitts ran a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at his pro day), route-running, and hands of a wide receiver. Pitts is sure to be must-see TV this year and will be for many years to come.