Last year, just one game separated the top three teams atop the NFC South. Which squad lands on top of our preseason power rankings?
The NFC South was the best and most competitive division in football last year, as three of the four teams made the playoffs and had double-digit wins. Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints claimed their first division title since 2011 before losing a heart breaker to the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons claimed the two wild card spots, finishing at 11-5 and 10-6, respectively. These three teams appear poised to battle once again for the top spot in the division.
With that being said, we’ll start our list off with Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who rank last in our NFC South power rankings.
No. 4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There should be no debate as to who the worst team in the South is, as Tampa Bay finished at a distant 5-11 last year. This is nothing new for the Bucs, as Tampa has finished last in the South in six of the last seven years.
Tampa lacks play makers on the offensive side of the football. Outside of star receiver Mike Evans, who has quietly posted over 1,000 receiving yards in each of his four seasons, the Bucs don’t have a lot of talent. Tight end O.J. Howard and rookie running back Ronald Jones have been surrounded by hype, but have yet to show much. Howard caught just 26 passes in his rookie season, while Jones has struggled mightily this preseason (19 yards on 18 carries).
Defensively, Tampa Bay has some promising pieces, especially along the defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul, Gerald McCoy, Vinny Curry and Noah Spence headline Tampa’s best position group on the roster. Not to mention, the Bucs added star defensive tackle Vita Vea with their first-round pick in the 2018 draft. Throw in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David at the linebacker positions, and Tampa has a very talented front seven. If Dirk Koetter and company are going to right the ship this year, it will be most certainly lead by their defense.