Drew Brees & Tom Brady

Know Your Enemy: The Dirty South

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Know Your Enemies continues with the entire NFC South. Yeah, one big article. Deal with it. They are all the same barely under .500 team anyway. All are adding a new starting QB (Ridder technically not a new starter but new enough to be considered one.)


Saints 7-10 last year in first year under Denis Allen. Good defense (9th PPG) but below average offense (22nd). Peter Carmichael still the OC and Joe Woods at DC. Good defense again and the offense added Derek Carr to try and improve.

Carolina recorded 7-10 last year but have a new head coach in Frank Reich after firing Matt Rhule early in the 2022 season. Thomas Brown is the new OC and Ejiero Evero a good DC from Denver. Carolina traded up for the top pick to get Bryce Young. Everything new in Carolina on offense with a solid young defense.

Tampa Bay notched  8-9 last year with Tom Brady. Brady retires now Baker Mayfield takes over. Todd Bowles enters year 2 as Head Coach with new OC David Canales and DC Kacy Rodgers/Larry Foote. Seems like a rebuild but they got decent pieces on defense and offense. Weak division will help them.

Atlanta Falcons were 7-10 also with a good run game but bad defense.  Arthur Smith is in year 3 as HC with OC Dave Ragone and DC Ryan Nielsen from Seattle. Falcons were 15th in PPG offense last year and 23rd PPG defense. Why not add another running back to an already good rushing attack. They did rebuild the defense a good bit though.


Derek Carr is a wild card with a new system but Chris Olave is a good WR entering year 2.  LT Trevor Penning, LG Andrus Peat, Center Erik McCoy, RG Cesar Ruiz and RT Ramcyzk should be a good offensive line for Carr. Can Michael Thomas shake the injury bug and finally get back to his form. They added Jimmy Graham. Why? Alvin Kamara is a good back but has 3 game suspension. Jamaal Williams was added after a good season with the Lions (17 TDs). Kendre Miller was drafted in Round 3 at RB too.

Saints defense should be good but they lost two DTs but draft DT Bryan Bresee in Round 1. Isiah Foskey in Round 2 was drafted and they hope Payton Turner stays healthy. Cam Jordan is still a beat at the other end spot and Granderson is a fine DE too.

Demario Davis is a great LB but Pete Werner and Zach Baun need to take a step forward. Marcus Lattimore needs to get back to elite CB1 and Tyranne Mathieu and Marcus Maye is a good safety tandem. The weakness is at CB 2 with Alontae Taylor/Paulson Adebo and nickel Bradley Robey.

Saints should win the South if the defense is still top 10 with veteran Derek Carr solidifying QB.


New QB in Bryce Young (replacing Baker Mayfield/Sam Darnold) with new weapons in DJ Chark (from Lions), Adam Thielen (from Vikings) and Jonathan Mingo (Round 2). DJ Moore was traded to the Bears. Offensive line should be solid with LT Ikem Ekownu (22 1st rounder), LG Brady Christensen, Center Bradley Bozeman, RG Austin Corbett and RT Taylor Moton. They can run block well and should provide enough time for Young.

Panthers defense is young but feisty. Brian Burns is a good pass rusher, Derrick Brown is a good DT, Shy Tuttle added from the Saints, and Yetur Gross Matos grows in year 4. Veteran Justin Houston also added to pass rush.

Linebacker is fine with Shaq Thompson and Frankie Luvu. Secondary is young but talented with Jaycee Horn, Donte Jackson, Jeremy Chinn, Vonn Bell (from Bengals/Saints) and Xavier Woods (from Vikings/Dallas).

Carolina is the sleeper for this division but could go 5-7 wins only if Young struggles as a rookie.


Desmond Ridder is the weakness but is young enough to develop. Drake London and Kyle Pitts were drafted high and have to step up. The run game is really good with Allegier, Patterson and 1st rounder Bijan Robinson. Jake Matthews, rookie Matthew Bergeron, Drew Dalman, stud RG Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary is fine offensive line but needs to improve at pass pro for Ridder.

Falcons defense was overhauled with DE Calais Campbell, OLB Bud Dupree, DT David Onyemata, Will Kaden Ellis joining stud Grady Jarrett. Might/may have a pass rush

Kaden Ellis (Saints) and Troy Anderson (22 2nd rounder) are athletic LBs but need to gain experience.

AJ Terrell is a number 1 CB and Jessie Bates was a big signing at safety from the Bengals. Falcons traded for Jeff Okudah (Lions) and added Mike Hughes (Lions) at nickel. Some talent there but Lions moved on for a reason. Richie Grant needs to take a step forward at safety as well.

Falcons defense has way more pieces now but a lot to prove to actually be above average to good. With Ridder the question mark, it could hurt the defense too. Falcons have 6 or 7 wins written all over them still.


Tom Brady is gone for Baker Mayfield. Downgrade I believe.

Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are still very good WRs. Russell Gage is a fine slot man. Cade Otton a lot to prove in year 2 at TE. Tristan Wirfs moves to LT replacing Donovan Smith and Matt Fieler new veteran LG. Ryan Jensen good center but hurt. Cody Mauch new Round 2 rookie RG. Luke Goedeke kicks outside to RT (22 2nd rounder). Bucs offensive line has some pieces and youth.

Rachaad White had a nice rookie year and Chase Edmonds is the backup. Their run game is lacking though if there is no threat from a QB.

Buccaneers defense is in a 3-4 and should be good. Vita Vea, 1st rounder Calijah Kancey and Greg Gaines (Rams) can be a good Dline. Shaq Barrett, Devin White, Lavonte David and Joe Tryon (21 1st rounder) is a good LB crew.

Jamel Dean re-signed and Carlton Davis is a good CB. Antoine Winfield a good safety and Ryan Neal added from Seattle. Dee Delaney a weak point at nickel corner.

Don’t sleep on the Buccaneers defense or WRs. Could they steal the division without Brady? That would be hilarious.


Saints are at Green Bay Week 3 and at the Vikings Week 10. Host Chicago Week 9 and Detroit Week 13.

Panthers are at Detroit Week 5 and at Chicago Week 10.  Carolina hosts Vikings Week 4 and the Packers in Week 16.

Falcons go to Detroit Week 3 and to Chicago Week 17. Falcons host the Packers Week 2 and Vikings Week 9.

Tampa Bay visit Minnesota Week 1 and Green Bay Week 15. Bucs host Bears Week 2 and the Lions Week 7.

I guarantee the NFC North sweeps the NFC South 16-0. Deal with it.