Here are my predictions for the AFC South. For NFC East and AFC East predictions, scroll down.
1. New Orleans Saints
2007 record: 7-9
Projected record: 12-4
Team overview: The New Orleans Saints should have a good team. Then again, they should have had a good season last year two. Drew Brees is a great pocket passer. They have two good backs in Deuce McAllister and Reggie Bush. They need Bush (upper left) to have a breakout season. Marques Colston is a great target for Brees. Jeremy Shockey is a nice addition at tight end.
The Saints greatly improved their defense, which was ranked 26th in the league last season. Scott Fujita was a tackling machine last season, recording 95 tackles. Jonathan Vilma is a good middle linebacker. The Saints hope rookie Sedrick Ellis can make a (positive) impact on the defensive line. Randall Gay should help a pass defense that was ranked 30th last year.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2007 record: 9-7
Projected record: 10-6
Team overview: Jeff Garcia led the Buccs to a playoff birth last year, and he very well might repeat his performance this year. Garcia is a proven winner. Even if he gets injured, the Buccs still have Luke McCown and Brian Griese. The Buccs are stacked at running back, with Earnest Graham, Warrick Dunn, and Micheal Bennett.
The Buccs defense is as nasty as ever. Ronde Barber is still a great D-back. Their linebackers may be unmatched. Derrick Brooks recorded over 100 tackles last season and is at the top of his game. Barrett Ruud had 114 tackles last season.
3. Carolina Panthers
2007 record: 7-9
Projected record: 8-8
Team overview: I think Jake Delhomme is going to have a good year. But DeAngelo Williams and rookie Jonathan Stewart are too inexperienced at running back. The Panthers will miss Steve Smith in two of those first three games he's suspended for. The toughies are at San Diego and at Minnesota. Although, Muhsin Muhammad and D.J. Hackett are still decent receivers. The offensive line is questionable.
Coach John Fox better hope that Julius Peppers can return to form. John Beason is a good linebacker. The rest of the defense is suspect.
4. Atlanta Falcons
2007 record: 4-12
Projected record: 3-13
Team overview: The Falcons will start rookie Matt Ryan at quarterback. Starting a rookie at quarterback, no matter who it is, isn't good. Their best backup is Chris Redman, another bad sign. They have unproven Micheal Turner at running back. Roddy White is an average wideout.
Keith Brooking and Lawyer Milloy are their only proven defensive players. 'Nough said.