2023 NFC South preview

September 5, 2023

Getty Images/Jared C. Tilton

Panthers 9-8

Carolina might have had the best offseason of anyone in the NFL.

Former Maryland Terrapin Frank Reich is a nice addition as head coach and Ejiro Evero as defensive coordinator is the cherry on top of an experienced coaching staff.

No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young is throwing to a receiving corps described as “under construction” and certainly opens the season injured, but he’s got the pedigree and coaching to help the Panthers win a bad division in Year 1 (not unlike Washington in 2020).

Saints 8-9

Derek Carr thinks he’s recovered from the personal and professional issues that derailed his tenure with the Raiders but the fact of the matter is, he’s only been the quarterback of a winning team twice in nine seasons. The notion that his presence automatically makes New Orleans the favorite to win even a bad division is laughable, especially when you consider his coach (Dennis Allen, who also had a bad tenure with the Raiders) did his best work (*checks notes*) last year when the Saints finished 7-10 in an aforementioned bad division.

In fact, the only reason I have the Saints near .500 is because they’re believed to have the easiest schedule in the league.

Falcons 8-9

Atlanta has reason to believe they have an explosive offense if Desmond Ridder is the real deal.

Rookie Bijan Robinson joins Drake London and tight end Kyle Pitts on a unit that could make “positionless football” as popular a phrase as it is in basketball.

The question is whether head coach Arthur Smith is anything more than an offensive coordinator who got a promotion, and whether the defense can squeeze another productive year out of veteran additions Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata and Calais Campbell.

I’m betting the answer lies somewhere around .500.

Bucs 6-11

Tampa swapped out Byron Leftwich for Dave Canales as offensive coordinator, and that just feels like a downgrade. Even if it’s not, swapping out Tom Brady for Baker Mayfield (behind a suddenly shaky offensive line) is.

Thus, Mike Evans’ streak of nine straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons is in jeopardy of ending shy of Jerry Rice’s record (11 straight). And despite Tristan Wirfs’ high expectations, it feels like the bottom is going to drop out from under head coach Todd Bowles the same way it did with the Jets.

AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | AFC West

NFC East | NFC North | NFC South | NFC West

Playoffs | Awards

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on WTOP.com.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up