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Recent history would indicate that the NFC South is among the NFL's strongest divisions.Three of its four teams ??New Orleans Warren Sapp Jersey , Atlanta and Carolina ??made the playoffs last season. The Falcons are only two seasons removed from an overtime loss in the Super
Bowl.Yet, in today's NFL, fortunes have been known to vacillate widely from one
year to the next."Obviously, there is parity in our league," Saints coach Sean
Payton said. "What I mean by that is, teams very quickly can improve themselves
in the division. You see that each year."Payton has urged his players to take
the approach that they are "starting from square one and it's an entirely
different year."But it's tough to entirely drown out the expectations
surrounding a club that won 11 of its last 14 regular-season games and beat the
Panthers in the playoffs before nearly advancing to the NFC title game. Only an
unlikely 61-yard touchdown pass play by the Vikings as time expired prevented
the Saints from going to Philadelphia.Much of New Orleans' success stemmed from
young players ??namely running back Alvin Kamara and cornerback Marshon
Lattimore, the 2017 offensive and defensive rookie award winners. Many other key
players??Pro Bowl receiver Michael Thomas, right guard Ryan Ramczyk, safeties
Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, defensive tackles Sheldon Rankins and David
Onyemata, cornerback Ken Crawley, and linebacker Alex Anzalone ??have been in
the NFL two or fewer years.That gave the Saints the luxury of approaching the
past offseason with the mission of refining rather than overhauling."We probably
feel like we have fewer holes Womens Gerald McCoy Jersey ," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Overall, we've got a young team ... and I'm anxious to see how those guys
develop and get better ??and I think we feel good about that."Here are some
other NFC South story lines in 2018:ELDER STATESMAN: For all of the Saints'
promising youth, their most important player still might be their eldest:
39-year-old Drew Brees.There's little evidence of a drop-off yet. Last season he
completed an NFL-record 72 percent of his passes and his eight interceptions
were his lowest since throwing seven with the Chargers in 2004.But he might have
to throw more this season than last ??at least early on. Pro Bowl running back
Mark Ingram is suspended the first four games for use of a banned substance.The
good news for New Orleans is the entire offensive line is intact after strong
showings in both the running and passing games in 2017."If they're playing well,
then you're able to open up the offense in a way that makes us very dangerous,"
Brees said. "This group is one of the best we've had."Brees also has two of his
top receivers back in Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr., along with two promising new
targets in free-agent acquisition Cameron Meredith and rookie Tre'Quan
Smith.STAR TREATMENT: The Falcons have taken measures to make sure two key
playmakers, wide receiver Julio Jones and running back Devonta Freeman, are
healthy to start the season. Neither played in a preseason game.Jones said he
was focused on his health when he missed mandatory minicamp. He had minor
surgery on his left foot after the 2016 season and had two ankle injuries, plus
injuries to his back, ribs, thumb and knee last season. Even so, he had 88
catches for 1 Womens Lavonte David Jersey ,444 yards and three touchdowns.Last year, Freeman had two concussions and was slowed by a knee problem.The Falcons led the
NFL in scoring in their 2016 Super Bowl season but fell back to the middle of
the pack last year.Quarterback Matt Ryan doesn't sound worried whether Jones or
Freeman will be in form when it counts"Not with those two," Ryan said. "They
both have played so much football and they both practice so much that I don't
really see them missing a beat."ANOTHER GEAR: The Panthers sought to get faster
in the offseason to compete with the Saints, who beat them three times last
season, including in the wild-card round. They've added speed at wide receiver,
trading for Torrey Smith, signing free agent Jarius Wright and drafting D.J.
Moore from Maryland in the first round. Coach Ron Rivera is also hoping 2017
second-round pick Curtis Samuel can stay healthy, unlike last season. Those
receivers and versatile running back Christian McCaffrey could give QB Cam
Newton a lot of reasons not to run himself.Carolina also went in the Saints'
backyard to get help on defense, drafting LSU cornerback Donte Jackson
??considered one of the fastest players in college a year ago ??in the second
round.TAKING ON WATER: The Bucs lost 10 of 13 following a 2-1 start a year ago,
missing the playoffs for the 10th consecutive season. Their chances of escaping
the division cellar and ending the long drought will be impacted by how they
play without QB Jameis Winston, who'll miss the first three games while serving
a suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.After opening on
the road at New Orleans, home games follow against defending Super Bowl champion
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. An 0-3 start could be difficult to
overcome Womens Carlton Davis Jersey , even if Winston plays well when he returns.PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: Saints, Falcons, Panthers, Buccaneers.AP
Sports Writers Fred Goodall, Charles Odum, Steve Reed contributed to this
report. Playing Jameis Winston matchmaker is best approach for Bucs coaching
searchTampa Bay needs to find the perfect match for Jameis Winston. Only true
gurus need apply.Tampa Bay Goes Back to the Drawing Board After Firing Dirk
KoetterThe Buccaneers bet their future that Koetter could bring the best out of
Jameis Winston, the no. 1 overall pick in 2015.Bucs’ focus now shifts to Jameis
Winston with Dirk Koetter goneTampa Bay’s next head coach will be tasked with
guiding 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston for at least one season.2019 NFL
Draft: Tampa Bay Buccaneers team needs, draft picks, prospects to watchWith
their 2018 season over, it’s time for Buccaneers fans to turn their attention to
the draft.Five things we learned from Falcons’ win over BuccaneersThe Falcons’
season of despair ended on a high note.Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From
Bucs-FalconsAnother close loss. Another last-place finish. Another offseason of
upheaval.Joel Glazer: Jason Licht Will Lead Head Coaching SearchThis news will
turn the stomach of many Bucs fans.
Posted 11 Oct 2019

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