Are Atlanta Falcons The Best Team In The NFC South?
Dec 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers free safety Tre Boston (33) reacts with cornerbacks Josh Norman (24) and Bene
The NFC South is wide open. The Panthers have won the division the past two years, but were hardly convincing winners last season, limping to a 7-8-1 record. Are the Atlanta Falcons now the best team in the NFC South?
Based on 2014 alone, the answer is no. It’s hard to really use the term ‘best’ in regards to any of the teams last season. Carolina just wasn’t as bad as the others over the course of a season.
As it happened, Atlanta was a Week 17 victory away from the playoffs. They were thumped by the Panthers at the Georgia Dome, but was it a blessing in disguise?
Of course, the Falcons would have loved a playoff berth, and it’s true that you just never know what will happen in the playoffs. Even so, the Falcons’ hopes of reaching the Super Bowl were slim to none, putting it kindly.
As for the Panthers, they were given a favorable matchup at home to the Arizona Cardinals, who were forced to start third-string quarterback Ryan Lindley. They would advance but see their season end in the Divisional Round in Seattle.
The consequences? The Panthers had to wait until No. 25 to make their first selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, while the Falcons got the opportunity to strengthen their roster with the eighth overall pick.
The Panthers took outside linebacker Shaq Thompson, while the Falcons had the luxury of taking the best pure pass rusher the draft had to offer in Vic Beasley.
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Sure, the Panthers probably had a deeper roster heading into the draft, and they will be stronger in 2015. But have they been overtaken by any other team in the division?
First, let’s look at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
Tampa Bay may have found their franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston. If so, it can be expected they will win some more games in 2015. Even then, it’s asking a lot for a rookie quarterback to completely turn it around there.
New Orleans had a solid draft, adding tackle Andrus Peat and bolstering their defense with linebackers Stephone Anthony, Hau’oli Kikaha and Davis Tull, as well as cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Damian Swann.
I still think there are too many holes on the Saints’ roster and they will struggle to find enough consistency to win the division. Drew Brees‘ performances have been slowly declining, so we will see if he can play at a high level throughout the season.
So what about the Falcons? Let’s take a look.
Next: Are the Falcons No. 1?