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NFL Draft

Record Predictions: Who Will Win NFC South?

  • The Draft Network
  • May 13, 2021
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The NFC South has long been one of the most entertaining divisions in football. As of late, it has been dominated at the top by the New Orleans Saints, who have won the last four division titles. But they weren’t even the team from that division that went the furthest in the playoffs last year, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are currently the reigning Super Bowl champions.

With Tampa poised to once again make a run at the Lombardi Trophy, they are the favorites to win the division. But the Saints, even without Drew Brees at quarterback, still have a strong roster and will make a playoff push. The Atlanta Falcons and their new regime, led by general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith, won’t likely contend for a playoff spot quite yet, while the big wild card in all this is the Carolina Panthers in their second year with Matt Rhule as their head coach.

Here are some early win-loss predictions (fresh off the schedule release) for one of the best divisions in football.

New Orleans Saints

Week 1: vs. Packers (W)

Week 2: @ Panthers (L)

Week 3: @ Patriots (W)

Week 4: vs. Giants (W)

Week 5: @ Washington (W)

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: @ Seahawks [MNF] (L)

Week 8: vs. Buccaneers (W)

Week 9: vs. Falcons (W)

Week 10: @ Titans (W)

Week 11: @ Eagles (W)

Week 12: vs. Bills [Thanksgiving] (L)

Week 13: vs. Cowboys [TNF] (W)

Week 14: @ Jets (L)

Week 15: @ Buccaneers [SNF] (L)

Week 16: vs. Dolphins [MNF] (L)

Week 17: vs. Panthers (W)

Week 18: @ Falcons (L)

Record Prediction: 10-7

The Saints, despite not having a clear answer at quarterback, still boast one of the best offensive lines in the NFL with good skill players in Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas with a cunning offensive play-caller in Sean Payton. All that mixed up might not make them a juggernaut like they have been in the past, but it will still make them a tough out. 

I expect the Saints to split their divisional games, but I do think they’ll get the better of most of the rest of their schedule. Their biggest roadblocks will be against the Bills, Seahawks, and Dolphins, but they could slip up against a few other AFC teams, too. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 1: vs. Cowboys (W)

Week 2: vs. Falcons (W)

Week 3: @ Rams (W)

Week 4: @ Patriots [SNF] (W)

Week 5: vs. Dolphins (W)

Week 6: @ Eagles (W)

Week 7: vs. Bears (W)

Week 8: @ Saints (L)

Week 9: BYE

Week 10: @ Football Team (W)

Week 11: vs. Giants (W)

Week 12: @ Colts (L)

Week 13: @ Falcons (W)

Week 14: vs. Bills (L)

Week 15: vs. Saints (W)

Week 16: @ Panthers (W)

Week 17: @ Jets (W)

Week 18: vs. Panthers (L)

Record Prediction: 13-4

“Going for two,” that’s what head coach Bruce Arians would say, right? 

The Buccaneers have had an unprecedented 2021 thus far. They not only won the Super Bowl, but did so in their own stadium for the first time in NFL history. They then followed it up by having one of the most incredible offseasons of any team in NFL history, bringing back all 22 of their starters from their Super Bowl team, plus retaining most of their key depth players. That, along with another solid draft class, will make them a tough out for any team.

This is a double-digit win team with their only tough outs coming from the Rams, Bills, Colts, and perhaps Dolphins and Saints, too. They should handle their business versus every other team—minus the inevitable dropped divisional game.

Carolina Panthers

Week 1: vs. Jets (W)

Week 2: vs. Saints (W)

Week 3: @ Texans (W)

Week 4: @ Cowboys (W)

Week 5: vs. Eagles (W)

Week 6: vs. Vikings (L)

Week 7: @ Giants (L)

Week 8: @ Falcons (W)

Week 9: vs. Patriots (W)

Week 10: @ Cardinals (L)

Week 11: vs. Football Team (L)

Week 12: @ Dolphins (L)

Week 13: BYE

Week 14: vs. Falcons (W)

Week 15: @ Bills (L)

Week 16: vs. Buccaneers (L)

Week 17: @ Saints (L)

Week 18: @ Buccaneers (W)

Record Prediction: 9-8

The Panthers were competitive last year given their circumstances as a team. They have since added a ton of talent via the draft and are bringing back all of their main coaches, which should make last year a good building block moving forward.

The big difference from 2020 to 2021 in Carolina is their quarterback, as Sam Darnold is now under center instead of Teddy Bridgewater. I don’t expect a playoff leap from Carolina this year, but I think a nine-win season is in the cards. It just all depends on how Darnold does in his debut and how well that young defense can progress.

Atlanta Falcons

Week 1: vs. Eagles (W)

Week 2: @ Buccaneers (L)

Week 3: @ Giants (L)

Week 4: vs. Football Team (L)

Week 5: vs. Jets (L)

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: @ Dolphins (W)

Week 8: vs. Panthers (L)

Week 9: @ Saints (L)

Week 10: @ Cowboys (W)

Week 11: vs. Patriots (L)

Week 12: @ Jaguars (W)

Week 13: vs. Buccaneers (L)

Week 14: @ Panthers (L)

Week 15: @ 49ers (L)

Week 16: vs. Lions (W)

Week 17: @ Bills (L)

Week 18: vs. Saints (W)

Record Prediction: 6-11

It’s hard to predict the Falcons will do too well given all their changes. The addition of Kyle Pitts into an offense that was already stacked with playmakers makes it tempting to think quarterback Matt Ryan and veteran play-caller Arthur Smith will be able to pour on the points. However, the offensive and defensive lines in Atlanta don’t give me a lot of confidence that they'll be able to control the teams the way you need to in order to consistently win in this league.

I don’t think the Falcons will be pushovers, but I don’t think they’ll strike fear in the hearts of their opponents, either. Depending on if a few division games go their way, I see a six- or seven-win team in 2021.

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