The NFC South appears to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ to lose, however Tom Brady has made that extra fascinating along with his coaching camp hiatus. The New Orleans Saints wish to contend within the division in addition to the NFC, whereas the Carolina Panthers suppose Baker Mayfield may lead them again to the playoffs.

The Falcons are in a rebuild, so their targets aren’t as excessive as the opposite groups’, however a bunch of younger expertise on offense might make the underside dwellers a more durable out than anticipated heading into the 2022 NFL common season.

I’ll be utilizing my NFL projection mannequin and simulating the NFL season 100,000 instances to take a deep dive into the NFC South and the way seemingly every staff is to win the division in addition to make the playoffs within the 2022 season.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Mock’s odds to win the NFC South: 58.9%
  • BetMGM’s odds to win the NFC South: -275 (73.3%)
  • Mock’s odds to make the playoffs: 79.1%
  • BetMGM’s odds to make the playoffs: -600 (85.7%)

If Things Go Right:

Tom Brady convinces everybody that he doesn’t want coaching camp earlier than driving off into the sundown with one more Super Bowl ring. Brady continues to play at an elite stage (he’s my mannequin’s third-best QB regardless of being 45 years outdated), and the Bucs have one of the best offense within the NFL.

The offensive line holds up whereas Ryan Jensen is out of the lineup. I’ve little doubt Tristan Wirfs and Shaq Mason maintain their very own, as they is likely to be one of the best proper facet in all of soccer. But the remainder of the road has some unknowns. Donovan Smith, Aaron Stinnie and Robert Hainsey are the penciled starters proper now, and Tampa Bay seemingly wants two of them to step up and maintain their very own. After all, Brady may nonetheless be elite, however he positive isn’t fleet of foot.

If Things Go Wrong:

There aren’t many holes on this Bucs’ roster, however they might have some depth points on the defensive position. It’s no secret that Todd Bowles’ defensive items like to blitz, and it’s been the Bucs’ id since he arrived. If the defensive position isn’t as sturdy, perhaps the blitz isn’t as efficient, resulting in extra huge performs or a change in scheme. I’m not saying that’s it seemingly, however it’s doable.

This isn’t centered on the Bucs, however one factor that might damage them this yr is that if the remainder of the division is improved. The Saints and Panthers ought to have higher quarterback play, the Saints protection ought to be top-of-the-line within the league, and the Panthers had a strong unit on that facet of the ball final season.

Last however not least, perhaps age lastly catches as much as Brady. He retains defying it, but when we’re going to look into worst-case situation, this has to make the listing. With an improved division and Brady in a decline, perhaps the Bucs simply miss out on the playoffs.

Buccaneers Super Bowl Projection:

My mannequin provides the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a 6.5% likelihood to win the Super Bowl, third-best within the NFL.

New Orleans Saints

  • Mock’s odds to win the NFC South: 31.2%
  • BetMGM’s odds to win the NFC South: +325 (23.5%)
  • Mock’s odds to make the playoffs: 59.4%
  • BetMGM’s odds to make the playoffs: +120 (45.5%)

New Orleans Saints Win Distribution

If Things Go Right:

First-round choose Trevor Penning holds his personal in changing Terron Armstead at left sort out. If Penning performs nicely and the offensive line can shield Jameis Winston, the Saints shall be an actual contender within the NFC. Penning has struggled via camp, largely with go blocking, however he or doable starter James Hurst simply should be something however horrible for this Saints offense.

Winston continues his stage from 2021 when he had an EPA/Dropback proper between Dak Prescott and Josh Allen (ninth-best within the league) per TruMedia. Winston might be a bit underrated at this level in his profession, and final season could have been his greatest. Sean Payton is gone, however numerous the teaching workers remained intact, so Winston may have familiarity to play like a top-10 quarterback.

If Things Go Wrong:

The Saints protection ought to be one of many league’s greatest, but when the offense is barely the third-best in its division, lacking the playoffs could be very doable. A great protection can solely take you thus far in immediately’s NFL. If you’re not in a position to rating at a constant clip, your opponents will.

The offensive line can’t discover any success. Ryan Ramczyk is likely one of the greatest tackles within the recreation, however the remainder of the group is shaky at greatest. If they’re not in a position to keep on their blocks, this Saints offense is doomed. They have loads of playmakers, together with Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram, Michael Thomas, Marquez Callaway, Jarvis Landry and first-round choose Chris Olave. But if issues break down within the trenches, the Saints offense shall be relying an excessive amount of on their protection to bail them out.

Saint Super Bowl Projection:

My mannequin provides the New Orleans Saints a 3.8% likelihood to win the Super Bowl, which is thirteenth within the NFL.

Carolina Panthers

  • Mock’s odds to win the NFC South: 8.3%
  • BetMGM’s odds to win the NFC South: +1100 (8.3%)
  • Mock’s odds to make the playoffs: 23.8%
  • BetMGM’s odds to make the playoffs: +275 (26.7%)

Carolina Panthers Win Distribution

If Things Go Right:

Baker Mayfield stays wholesome and performs to his capacity as a former No. 1 choose, and the Panthers make the NFC playoffs. Baker is a polarizing quarterback who hasn’t lived as much as the hype, however I feel there may be room for enchancment. Mayfield struggled final yr, however he did play via an damage virtually the whole season. That’s been one of many points in his younger profession, but when he can keep wholesome, the Panthers have the items round him to make some noise within the NFC.

Christian McCaffrey stays wholesome for the primary time since 2019. McCaffrey is probably the most dynamic operating again within the NFL when he’s at this greatest, and he can change the complexion of this Panthers offense.

The offensive line is a well-above-average unit. If first-round choose Ikem Ekonwu seems strong as a rookie, this might be an excellent unit. That will go a good distance with defending Mayfield and permitting him to search out McCaffrey and D.J. Moore and perhaps even some lengthy throws to Robbie Anderson.

If Things Go Wrong:

The protection is totally abysmal following the losses of Haason Reddick and Stephon Gilmore. The Panthers defensive metrics in 2021 look fantastic on paper, however once you look deeper, issues get somewhat murky as they struggled towards high quality offenses and actually struggled on the finish of the season. In reality, they allowed 27 factors or extra in 5 out of their ultimate six video games. The EPA/Play seems nice, however after adjusting for opponent, my mannequin truly rated them nearer to twentieth on the finish of the 2021 season. Unless they will fill the void of Reddick and Gilmore, you can see some excessive level totals from opposing offenses.

Mayfield’s damage in 2021 was not the only real cause for his struggles, and he performs on the identical price for the Panthers offense in 2022. Mayfield of final yr is definitely an improve over Sam Darnold, however it’s not a scenario the place head coach Matt Rhule needs to search out himself.

Panthers Super Bowl Projection:

My mannequin provides the Carolina Panthers a 1.1% likelihood to win the Super Bowl, which is twenty second within the NFL.

Atlanta Falcons

  • Mock’s odds to win the NFC South: 1.6%
  • BetMGM’s odds to win the NFC South: +3000 (3.2%)
  • Mock’s odds of constructing the playoffs: 5.7%
  • BetMGM’s odds of constructing the playoffs: +700 (12.5%)

Atlanta Falcons Win Distribution

If Things Go Right:

Desmond Ridder takes over as QB1 and leads the Falcons to a playoff berth. Marcus Mariota isn’t a nasty quarterback, however he and the Falcons are higher served if he’s a backup. I’d anticipate the Falcons to offer Ridder his likelihood at any time when he’s prepared. If Ridder finally ends up being successful, the Falcons’ rebuild can be method forward of schedule, and with Drake London paired with Kyle Pitts, the offense would begin to take form.

Arnold Ebiketie excels as a rookie and takes strain off Grady Jarrett and the Falcons go rush. The protection is wanting fairly scarce as we head into the season, however having two formidable go rushers and a superb cornerback tandem in A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward Jr., issues might definitely be worse.

If Things Go Wrong:

The defensive position can’t generate strain, and the protection finishes on the backside of the league. Last yr, the Falcons have been twenty seventh in EPA/Play. That’s together with two video games towards Trevor Siemian (who they seemingly received’t see this yr) and one every towards Sam Darnold and Cam Newton. My mannequin initiatives the Falcons because the third-worst protection heading into the 2022 season, and life might be even more durable if the opposing quarterbacks within the division have good years.

Both Mariota and Ridder have poor seasons, leading to an enormous offseason determination on whether or not to pursue one of many prime quarterbacks in subsequent yr’s draft. Some Falcons followers is likely to be wishing for one of many prime sign callers within the 2023 pool, however after selecting Ridder with a third-round choose this yr, would they be keen to take one other quarterback?

Falcons Super Bowl Projection:

My mannequin provides the Atlanta Falcons a 0.2% likelihood to win the Super Bowl, which is twenty eighth within the NFL.

(Photo: Nathan Ray Seebeck / USA Today)

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