Inside the Dome: Analyzing the NFC South
Welcome to a new series on the WNSP website! You’ll be able to find Inside the Dome right here every Thursday where we will get into a different topic on the Saints/the NFL as a whole, break down the Black and Gold, and talk about where things stand in the shield. For the first edition of this column, let’s take a look at the NFC South and where the Saints could fare this season:
For one, let’s state the obvious. The NFC South is arguably the weakest division in all of football. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have won it the last two seasons, are going to be absolutely dreadful this year and possibly one of the worst teams in the league. In case you forgot, Tom Brady isn’t walking through that door anymore.
Outside of Tampa Bay, I see both the Falcons and Panthers as question marks. Both teams went 7-10 in 2022 and on paper, both should be better in 2023. The Falcons made several nice moves in the offseason by bringing in star safety Jessie Bates III, offensive tackle Kaleb McGary and linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Bud Dupree. Notably, they used a top-10 pick on versatile Texas running back Bijan Robinson, and while it wasn’t necessarily a huge need, Robinson will immediately be one of the best backs in football.
Desmond Ridder has yet to show that he can be a franchise quarterback, but he will be given every chance to do so this season.
The Panthers held the #1 pick in the draft after trading up with the Chicago Bears and used it to select Alabama’s Bryce Young. With a new coach in Frank Reich and a new quarterback, it will likely take time before Carolina is ready to compete to win the division.
The biggest addition to the division in the offseason was a new signal caller for the Saints in Derek Carr. Quarterback play has plagued New Orleans since Drew Brees retired, and at the minimum, Carr offers stability at the position. It was a rough 2022 in Las Vegas for Carr and time for a new chapter for all parties involved.
Entering year two for Dennis Allen, I have to think he is at least somewhat on the hot seat. You can excuse last season due to lackluster quarterback play, but with the weakness of the division and the fact that the Saints are without a doubt the favorites entering the year, Allen has run out of excuses.
Alvin Kamara will be suspended for the first three games of the season, but New Orleans signed Jamaal Williams in free agency as well as drafting Kendre Miller from TCU, both of which should ease the loss of Kamara.
The Black and Gold should be solid on defense once again and really just need to get the most out of Carr. This is a roster capable of winning 10 games, and there is no real reason they shouldn’t win the division. Barring immediate superstardom from Bryce Young, the Saints have the best quarterback in the division and by far the best roster.
The way I see things, this is the Saints division to lose. It’s up to Dennis Allen and company to get it done.