NFC South Preview

With Sean Payton returning to the sidelines Drew Brees and the Saints become even more dangerous.

Atlanta Falcons

There is perhaps no team in the NFL more championship ready than the Atlanta Falcons. They are loaded with talent and play in a division that was very weak last season.  QB Matt Ryan was yet another signal caller who received a raise this off season and now needs to prove that he was worth the investment.  This is also perhaps the last chance for veteran TE Tony Gonzalez to win his first title after deciding not to retire following the Falcons failing to reach last years Super Bowl. Glenn Coyle

Tony Gonzalez returns to Atlanta to reach that elusive Super Bowl title.

Carolina Panthers

2013 is a make or break year for QB Cam Newton, who has shown flashes of brilliance during his first two seasons, but that brilliance has not translated into many wins.  Newton must be more consistent if the Panthers are to threaten the top teams in the NFC and qualify for the playoffs.  He has weapons around him including veteran WR Steve Smith, TE Greg Olsen and RB DeAngelo Williams.  One key weapon who won’t be available for the first six games is RB Jonathan Stewart who is recovering from an ankle injury.  Stewart played a key role in the Panthers 9th ranked rushing attack last season.  Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly was a surprise tackling machine last season and will probably play a bigger role in getting the Panthers offensive back on the field quickly.  Carolina won 4 straight games to end last season and finish 7-9, but that won’t be good enough for a team filled with this much unrealized potential.  Head Coach Ron Rivera is also under a great deal of pressure to deliver, he like his QB has been with the Panthers for two seasons and has only 13 wins thus far.  His seat is just as hot as Newton’s entering 2013 and will continue to get hotter if his team does not produce.  Carolina could sneak into the playoffs, but they are not a serious Super Bowl contender yet. Glenn Coyle

This is a big season for Cam Newton in Carolina.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans Saints are coming off a very disappointing 7-9 season. They should find a way to bounce back now that Sean Payton is back in the fold following BountyGate. If the defense can rebound in the slightest the Saints are likely to improve by three or four games. As usual the Saints will be an exciting team to watch as they should have little trouble moving the ball against most NFL defenses. Drew Brees remains among the best in the business and should be able to keep the Saints in the post season hunt. Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Lance Moore and Darren Sproles should provide more then enough offense through the air. The defense will remain the key to serious success in the 2013. Mike Orzechowski

Receivers come and go, but Jimmy Graham has been a constant weapon in the Saints offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers have a lot to hope for in the coming year. Rookie sensation Doug Martin will be expected to carry a big load, while the receiving tandem of Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams could put up big numbers for Josh Freeman. However, on the defensive side of the ball, Tampa Bay were one of the worst in stopping the deep ball. They ranked 29th in yards and sacks, and 23rd in points allowed. They went out to improve that by picking up cover specialist, Darrelle Revis, to help with that problem. They did not do much to improve the offense, by adding Kevin Ogletree and Peyton Hillis, who won’t be able to help fill the holes needed to improve that offense. They will throw it and run it all over the field, but if the defense does not show up, look for another long year for the Bucs. Kevin Langner

Can the “Muscle Hamster” Doug Martin repeat his 2012 season or is he headed for a sophomore slump?

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