Friday, September 09, 2005

NFC South: Falcons

1. Atlanta Falcons - Last year the LFR said the Falcons would make the Super Bowl, this year it's saying they're going to win it! QB Michael Vick will finally realize he doesn't have to do everything with this talented bunch and the team will grow together. Second-year WR Michael Jenkins will emerge as the big-playmaker on offense. The combination of Vick and head coach, Jim Mora's strong leadership will fulfill the prophecy of the chosen quarterback bringing balance to the South. RB Warrick Dunn wins the Super Bowl MVP.

2. Carolina Panthers - Everybody is lovin' on Carolina but they're going to have trouble scoring even with QB Jake Delhomme's guile. Who will he throw to and who's going to carry the ball? DE Julius Peppers is the defensive "once-in-a-lifetime" player that Vick is on offense. He and the best defensive line in football will lead the Panthers just short of the last wildcard. A strong season from K John Kasay will be key because this team is going to play a lot of low-scoring games. A few tweaks and this team is back in the Super Bowl next year.

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - You have to wonder whether coach Jon Gruden sold himself to the Devil to win a Super Bowl because this team and his persona seems foreign to the Chucky schtick and style of play in Oakland and his first two years in Tampa. Rookie RB Cadillac Williams will be a revelation. He'll win the Offensive Rookie of the Year. WR Michael Clayton is going to be a Pro Bowler for years to come. He remind me of James Lofton. The key to their season, unfortunately, is QB Brian Griese. I worry about whether he can stay healthy, not only in body, but spirit. A road game in Charlottle in the first week of November looks like a visit to the trainer's table.

4. New Orleans Saints - The new America's Team was saddled with problems before hurricane Katrina made them into the San Antonio Saints. Vagabound teams don't win much. The Titans performed dismally in their first year in Tennessee playing in Memphis as the Oilers and the Montreal Expos suffered greatly playing Puerto Rico the last two years. The unfortunate disaster in New Orleans is going to greatly hamper the Saints. QB Aaron Brooks is good enough to start in the NFL, but this is the best he's ever going to be. This team has discipline problems and those don't usually go away until there's a new sheriff in town. Amazingly, though, because of the hurricane owner Tom Benson may spare coach Jim Haslett until next year.

2004 LFR Genius Prediction: "There will be just enough good times in Nah Ohleans for [Jim Haslett] to save his job.."

2004 LFR Dumb Prediction: "This is the NFC representative in Super Bowl XXXIX," referring to the Atlanta Falcons.