NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: NFC South Teams Ranked

The NFC South has all the ingredients to be one of the most intriguing divisions in the NFL this season.

The New Orleans Saints were one controversial call away from reaching the Super Bowl last year, while the Atlanta Falcons and the Carolina Panthers have two of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Here's what to expect from the NFC South this time out.

New Orleans Saints

A decade has passed since Drew Brees guided the New Orleans Saints to their maiden championship at Super Bowl XLIV.

The Saints were one missed passed interference call away from reaching the final dance again last season and are desperate to make the Super Bowl before Brees' window closes.

They are well poised to do so as, according to Oddschecker, they are 3/5 favorite to win the NFC South for a third consecutive season.

New Orleans has added running back Latavius Murray to its offense on a four-year, $14.4 million deal to replace Mark Ingram, while defensive tackle Malcolm Brown signed a three-year deal worth $15 million after leaving the New England Patriots.

The key men, however, remain Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. The latter was named Rookie of the Year in 2017 and rushed for 883 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, adding 709 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions.

Bar a major surprise, expect New Orleans to be involved in the business end of the season yet again.

Prediction: 12-4

Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints takes the field before their preseason game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on August 24 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Jeff Zelevansky/Getty

Atlanta Falcons

Plagued by injuries to key players, the Falcons went 7-9 last season, although they closed the campaign with three consecutive wins.

At 7/2, Atlanta is the second favorite to win the division—and if finishing ahead of the Saints looks unlikely, a wild-card playoff spot should be within reach.

In Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, the Falcons have one of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the league. Ryan threw for 4,924 passing yards and 35 touchdowns last season, while Jones hauled in 113 receptions for 1,677 yards and eight touchdowns.

Ryan should be better protected this year after the Falcons used their two first-round picks to draft offensive linemen Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary from Boston College and Washington respectively.

Prediction: 9-7

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers' fortunes are directly linked to Cam Newton's health.

The quarterback has thrown for a franchise-record 28,469 yards and 182 touchdowns since Carolina drafted him with the first overall pick in 2011.

Newton was named MVP as the Panthers reached Super Bowl 50 in 2015, but his injury problems have hampered the franchise in the following three years.

Carolina went 7-9 last season, missing the playoffs for the second time in three years. That, however, only tells half the story as the Panthers were 6-2 halfway through the season, before Newton was forced to play through a shoulder injury and Carolina went on a seven-game losing streak.

The Panthers have added wide receiver Chris Hogan from the New England Patriots and have bolstered the defensive line with the addition of six-time Pro Bowler Gerald McCoy.

In Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers have one of the standout running backs in the league. The eighth overall pick of the 2017 draft rushed for 1,098 yards and seven touchdowns last season, adding 867 receiving yards and six scores.

A 6/1 shot to win the NFC South, the Panthers' season could go either way depending on Newton's fitness.

Prediction 7-9

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers
Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers hands the ball off to Christian McCaffrey #22 during the preseason game between the Carolina Panthers and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 22 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Maddie Meyer/Getty

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Buccaneers ended last season with a 5-11 record for the second consecutive campaign and have now missed the playoffs for the last 11 years.

Bruce Arians has replaced Dirk Koetter and is joined in Tampa Bay by Todd Bowles, who worked with Arians at the Arizona Cardinals and was fired by the New York Jets last season.

The duo will be hoping to improve the Bucs' dismal running offense and shore-up a defense that conceded 464 points last season, the second-most in the league.

On the offensive side of the ball, big things are expected of Jameis Winston, who has struggled since being selected with the first overall pick in 2015.

During his spell with the Indianapolis Colts between 1998 and 2001, Arians was Peyton Manning's first quarterback coach in the NFL and he will be expected to get the best out of Winston.

Aside from coaching changes, the Bucs have added five-time Pro Bowler Ndamukong Suh and have drafted LSU linebacker Devin White with the fifth overall pick.

An 11/1 shot to win the division, Tampa Bay will probably have to settle for a season of improvement as the playoffs remain out of reach.

Prediction: 5-11

NFL Playoffs Picture 2019: NFC South Teams Ranked | Sports