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2009 NFL Divisional Previews: NFC South


Marc Lawrence

Marc Lawrence

2008 marked the first time in the last six years that a team from the NFC SOUTH DIVISION failed to move from the outhouse to the penthouse, or last place to first place.

That’s not to say that Atlanta, the NFC SOUTH DIVISION cellar dweller in 2007, didn’t deliver last season. They did. It’s just that Carolina won one extra game and edged out the Falcons for division honors.

Yes, the times are changing in this division and the changes appear to be for the good. That being the case, we’ll keep a close eye on New Orleans and see if they can’t complete the ‘worst-to-first’ run in 2009.


Here is my take of teams in the NFC South DIVISION for 2009.

Coming up next: the NFC West DIVISION


Team Theme – ONE AND DONE

Following a tumultuous 2007 season, team owner Arthur Blank confided his trust and faith in new head coach Mike Smith when he informed him, “You can do it. We can help.” Atlanta then went out signed prized free agent RB Michael Turner and drafted QB Matt Ryan with the 3rd pick in the NFL draft. The new triumvirate paid immediate dividends when the Falcons went from a 4-win bust to a playoff team in one fell swoop. That being the case, we will be the first to point out the fact that Atlanta has never had back-to-back winning seasons in its 43-year history. To make matters worse, the Falcons will take on the league’s 4th toughest schedule in 2009, playing only two games against teams that had losing records last year. Unless the defense stiffens substantially, we can’t help but believe that “never” loses out again this year. PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. Chicago (10/18)

Team Theme – FOX ON THE RUN

Thanks to a powerful running game, John Fox’s Panthers returned to their winning ways last year after wallowing through an injury-filled 2007 season. As a result Carolina is favored to win the NFC South in 2009. In order to live up to those expectations, it will need to fortify a soft rush defense that allowed more than 120 yards on the ground in seven of its final nine games last year. While it’s difficult to fade the crafty Fox as an underdog (34-19-1 ATS), we have no reservations fading him when he lays points at home (18-25-2 ATS). 2009 NFL Divisional Previews: NFC South Pay close attention to Fox’s weakest role: a home favorite against .666 or greater opposition (1-7-1 ATS). With only one game on the entire schedule against a team that had a losing season last year, the hunt for wins will be tougher to find in 2009. PLAY AGAINST: as a favorite vs. Buffalo (10/25)

Team Theme – PAYTON’S PACE

While most NFL teams focused on shoring up their offenses this off-season, offensive juggernaut New Orleans was busy beefing up its defense. Head coach Sean Payton learned the hard way that a good offense is rendered meaningless without a defense. He’s excited about procuring the services of Gregg Williams, the former head coach with the Ravens and defensive coordinator with Jaguars, Redskins and Titans. “We targeted Gregg as the coach we wanted to hire after our first interview because he was so impressive and prepared,” said Payton. “As an offensive coach, I have game-planned against his defenses in the past, and I know the problems they create. He’s an aggressive coach, but his units are always sound fundamentally.” Amazingly, the Saints were the best team in the NFL ‘In The Stats’ last year when they outstatted all but three foes, yet missed out on the post-season. If New Orleans can gain measured improvement from Williams’ schemes, it will be playoff bound in 2009. PLAY ON: vs. Carolina (11/8)


Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. This is not the same Tampa Bay team we’ve come to admire the last dozen seasons. Those teams were coached by Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden and made it to the playoffs on six different occasions, winning a Super Bowl in 2002. Dungy and Gruden leave the coaching ranks this season, one by choice; the other by boot. Their shoes leave a big imprint, sizes of which Raheem Morris will have trouble filling. Brooks and Dunn (Derrick and Warrrick) have also moved on, hanging up their spikes in favor of an influx of new talent. Morris realizes a rebuilding project is underway, so patience becomes the operative word this season. Aside from taking on the fifth most difficult schedule this year (only three opponents were losing teams in 2008), Morris will conclude the season away from home in four of his final six games. That ain’t no way to go, for a brand new man. PLAY AGAINST: vs. Seattle (12/20)

Note: Marc Lawrence is a 30-year veteran handicapper. He finished No.1 in the nation (88-63 +25.7 Net Units) in MLB during the 2007 season as documented by Sports Watch in Las Vegas.

Comments are Welcome!!!


Marc Lawrence Has Been Handicapping Sports Professionally Since 1975 – Check Out His Weekly Picks & His DAILY MLB PLAYS Today Here at Capperspicks.com >>>


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  1. I like New Orleans chances in the NFC South. I agree with you that Atlanta is due for a step backwards, and do not have the confidence in Jake Delhomme that Carolina does.