Team MVP: Michael Turner
Break-Out Player: Matt Ryan or Laurent Robinson
Biggest Disappointment: None, the Falcons fans are prepared for the worst already. Anything above 4 wins will be a welcome surprise.
Fantasy Stud: Roddy White appears to have the most potential to provide points but Michael Turner should be a decent 2nd RB as well.
Offensive Outlook: The running game really will have to shine to have any chance to put points on the board. Turner will be the conduit for the whole offense to run properly. If he is effective and gets enough attention, the opposing defense will be susceptible to the pass and big play ability of White and Robinson. The QB position is the key for the future but decent pass protection should give Redman or Ryan a chance to make plays.
Defensive Diagnosis: The secondary is the most glaring issue I see right now. Youth and inexperience is evident anywhere you look but the guys are hungry and looking to make plays. If the secondary coach Emmitt Thomas prepares his guys well then we have the best chance to learn and become a better team. Up front the D-line features DE John Abraham coming off of a very good season in which he posted 10 sacks and recorded 41 tackles with 4 forced fumbles. If he stays healthy he can provide enough pressure to give the secondary a chance to pick off rushed passes. If Abraham is injured then the D lacks a true speed rusher.
The LB corps is certainly the strongest part of our defense. Michael Boley who is really coming into his own the last couple of years should be a monster again. Keith Brooking is entering into his 10th season and is just a great all around player. Also keep an eye for Curtis Lofton, the kid isn't huge but can tackle anything that moves. I feel he just might be the answer we have been waiting for in the middle linebacker position.
Red-Letter Game: at Green Bay Packers Sunday Oct. 10th. Brett Favre is the biggest story of this off- season and people will be watching everything he does. Will he be his same old self or will he be the interception machine of '05-'06? The Packers represent one of only a few teams on the Falcons schedule that can be considered a legitimate super bowl contender with the others being Minnesota and San Diego.
Projected Record/Outlook: This is a reconstruction year and I want to be practical. But the Falcons have possibly the easiest schedule in the league. (Only 4 teams qualified for the playoffs last year.) I think that my birds can win 4-6 games this year where most other blogs say 2-4.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa offers a solid QB in Garcia, a good back in Earnest Graham and an aging defense. The Bucs should challenge for the division title but I really don't see that many weapons here. I feel this team has a chance to win the division or just suck something awful.
New Orleans Saints: The Saints have the best offense in the division by far with QB Drew Brees one of the best at his position in this league. The receiving corps on paper should be explosive. The Running game can be up and down with Bush no more than a glorified slot receiver/back hybrid so far to this point and Deuce McAllister coming off of a major knee injury. The Defense cannot stop anybody and there lies the issue I find here. The Saints I feel will be a team who will need to shoot the lights out, instead of clamping down on defense.
Carolina Panthers: Carolina has the biggest chance to fall apart of any team in the NFC South I feel. Jake Delhomme is coming off of Tommy John surgery and is doing it in under a year (scary). They will be without the services of Steve Smith the first 2 games of the season for his hitting a fellow teammate (ouch!). I liked their acquisition of D.J. Hackett even if he is plagued by injuries (which by the way he is). He brings great size and height and decent quickness and will find the end zone if he is on the field. The D is just average where just a few years ago it was mentioned with the likes of Baltimore and Chicago. Look for Jonathan Stewart to steal the starting running back job from DeAngelo Williams. This team is more famine than feast on paper but they could possibly surprise some people.
- Sean McNally