One team won a dozen games and failed to reach the NFC title game. Another club was swept by a division rival during the regular season, settled for a wild card invitation, got revenge in the playoffs, and went onto win Super Bowl. The New Orleans Saints have won the NFC South four straight years but it was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that walked away with a Lombardi Trophy. There have already been plenty of changes within the division as this eight-part series continues.
NOTE: 2020 win-loss records include playoffs
New Orleans Saints (13-5)
So is there anyone left in the Big Easy? All kidding aside, be it salary-cap related, free agent departures or the expected retirement of quarterback Drew Brees, Sean Payton’s roster will look quite different in 2021. There’s still talent here and it will be interesting to see who GM Mickey Loomis brings in. But all eyes will be on the starting signal-caller situation featuring erratic Jameis Winston and versatile Taysom Hill.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (15-5)
Bruce Arians’ team became the second club in four years (2017 Eagles) to rebound from a losing season and win a Super Bowl. Now the Bucs look to become the first team since the 2003 and ’04 Patriots (and Tom Brady) to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Rob Gronkowski and linebackers Lavonte David and Shaq Barrett have re-signed but Todd Bowles’ defensive unit could still use more help at the cornerback spot.
Carolina Panthers (5-11)
It’s the second season for head coach Matt Rhule and the franchise was busy early cutting veterans such as defensive tackle Kawann Short and safety Tre Boston. A healthy Christian McCaffrey would do wonders for the offense and this unit has its share of versatile weapons. On defense, Carolina came up with only 29 sacks (9 by Brian Burns) so more pass-rush help would be a plus for defensive coordinator Phil Snow.
Atlanta Falcons (4-12)
When you allow the most passing yards in the league, as well as 34 scores through the air, it’s obvious that the Falcons’ secondary needs some work. But so does a pass rush that never seems to get better. Longtime defensive mind Dean Pees comes out of retirement and is the new coordinator in Atlanta as he and new head coach Arthur Smith worked together in Tennessee. He takes over the NFL’s 29th-ranked defense from 2020.