2006 NFC South Preview
Coach John Fox continues to create winning teams for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers were a fine club last season, but they did not sit still during the off-season. The additions of wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson and center Justin Hartwig are just what the offense needed, while tackle Ma’ake Kemoeatu is one seven new, talented defensive players.
The Panthers are the team to beat and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may be able to beat them. John Gruden and company may have made the fewest changes of any team in the league this year (3), counting on returning players to mature and others to have comeback seasons. The Bucs look solid at just about every position and dominant at running back. Their defense was the best in the NFL last season. They’re worthy opponents for the Panthers.
New Orleans’ new coach Sean Payton has two things past Saints’ coaches have not—Drew Brees and Reggie Bush. With an offense equal to the Panthers, New Orleans could be a division contender if they could just field a solid and consistent defense. Unless they solve some major weaknesses before the start of the season, they’re bound for fourth place.
The Atlanta Falcons and coach Jim Mora look to have another taxing season with Michael Vick calling the signals. The athletic Vick is his own worst enemy as he imitates a running back while playing quarterback. A more disciplined approach by Vick would help the team’s fortunes, as would some quick, dependable receivers.
2006 NFC South Predictions
In 2006, the Panthers and Bucs have a real shot. It’s not just the on field personnel. Both clubs have retained excellent head coaches who know how to win today and plan for the future. The Saints should be an entertaining team, while the Falcons will frustrate fans.
Predicted order of finish, click on the team name for a more in-depth look at the professional football club.
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