The NFC South Primer: Team expectations


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Apr 24, 2023

The NFC South Primer: Team expectations

We’re over the halfway mark in the NFL offseason, and we’re heading toward a

We’re over the halfway mark in the NFL offseason, and we’re heading toward a 2023 season where anything can happen in the volatile state of the NFC South.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have won the division two years in a row, but the era of QB Tom Brady is over and fresh blood is coming in. The Carolina Panthers have a new coaching staff and a rookie QB in Bryce Young. The New Orleans Saints are poised to pounce with new QB Derek Carr in head coach Dennis Allen's second year. The Atlanta Falcons have loaded up the offensive side of the ball with talent and hope to make a run with the firepower.

It's very hard to predict what's going to happen, but Bucs Wire, Panthers Wire, Saints Wire and Falcons Wire teamed up to try and do just that for the 2023 season. We’re introducing the NFC South Primer, where the four Wire sites team up to get you ready for the wildcard that is the NFC South in 2023. Every iteration will tackle a different question, and here is the inaugural one:

What are your realistic expectations for your team in 2023?

Quarterback is always the biggest swing when it comes to a team, and the Bucs have serious questions. QB Baker Mayfield was perhaps the worst QB in the NFL during his stint in Carolina, but his short Rams tenure gives hope. QB Kyle Trask, on the other hand, is a raw and unproven prospect who could have to step into a starting role despite rarely being active last year. On top of that, the o-line is unproven and being moved around and the defensive line is filled with players trying to prove their worth (Logan Hall, Joe Tryon Shoyinka) and first-year rookies (Calijah Kancey).

This Bucs team is talented, but reports that they are too talented to be bad may be hopeful. With an oft-criticized Todd Bowles at HC and unknowns across the board, the Bucs could be in for a top-ten pick in 2023. Alternatively, if everything pans out, the team could surprise — just don't count on it. — River Wells, Bucs Wire Editor

It's fair to say that the Panthers will, at the very least, top last year's win total. They were able to finish at 7-10 despite going through a 2-7 start, an in-season head-coaching change and a nauseating carousel of substandard passers.

Now, they’ll be headed into the 2023 campaign with a qualified (and incredibly impressive) coaching staff and a revamped offense led by No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. Plus, their defense—even in the transition to a 3-4 base—should take another step forward with the likes of Brian Burns, Derrick Brown and Jaycee Horn each inching closer to varying degrees of relevance. — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire Editor

The Saints can't settle for anything less than double-digit wins and a division title leading to a playoff berth. They talked up Dennis Allen as a coach who can keep the team together and compete in the postseason; they’ve said similar things about QB Derek Carr since working hard to recruit him. If Carr underperforms and Allen leaves people second-guessing his game management decisions each week while spiraling towards another losing record, massive changes need to follow. There must be consequences if the Saints don't meet the expectations they’ve publicly set for themselves. — John Sigler, Saints Wire Editor

After two straight 7-10 seasons, the Falcons went out and signed Jessie Bates, Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree and Kaden Elliss. These additions should help improve Atlanta's secondary and defensive line, two of the team's weakest units in 2022. On offense, the Falcons added dynamic running back Bijan Robinson to what was already one of the top rushing attacks in the NFL.

The team's biggest question mark is QB Desmond Ridder. Even with average play at the QB position, though, Atlanta appears to have done enough to end its five-year postseason drought. I like the Falcons to finish 10-7 in 2023. — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire Editor

Story originally appeared on Buccaneers Wire

— River Wells, Bucs Wire Editor — Anthony Rizzuti, Panthers Wire Editor — John Sigler, Saints Wire Editor — Matt Urben, Falcons Wire Editor