PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Falcons 11-5
2. Saints 10-6
3. Panthers 9-7
4. Buccaneers 3-13
Last season the NFC South was a dumpster fire.
At one point it was possible for a 10-loss team to make the playoffs. Thankfully that did not happen.
After being eliminated from playoff contention, Tampa Bay immediately entered into the race for the first overall pick.
And boy did they lose… to win the chance to draft first overall.
Tampa used the first overall pick to select Jameis Winston, quarterback from nearby Florida State. While Winston has the physical attributes to succeed in the NFL, there are some issues.
Such as stealing crab legs from a grocery store that resulted in him being kicked off the Florida State baseball team. And then on draft day posting a picture on social media of him with a plate of crab legs.
Standing up in the middle of a student congregation area and yelling, “Fuck her right in the pussy.” Apparently it is a meme of sorts.
And the rape allegation resulting in the accuser filing a Title IX lawsuit against Florida State earlier this year and the accuser suing Winston in April.
I suppose the Buccaneers did their homework and decided to take a chance on Winston understanding the risks.
I expect Winston to undergo the same experience as Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, the growing pains of adjusting from the college to the pro game. One thing that Winston has that Mariota doesn’t have is something that resembles a supporting cast: running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Mike Evans. Martin is looking to rebound from two injury plagued seasons while Evans is looking to build upon his 1,000-yard receiving rookie season.
Division champion Carolina will have a difficult time defending their divisional crown. They will be a tough match-up week-to-week with Cam Newton under center but the loss of receiver Kelvin Benjamin will keep Carolina around .500.
Both the Falcons and Saints have improved to regain control as the top two teams of the division. The goal for the Falcons is to keep their receiving corps healthy. But here is something else to consider and this is from the FiveThirtyEight nerds.
1. Does Matt Ryan need to be elite for the Falcons to win the Super Bowl?
2. How bad is Drew Brees expected to decline?
FiveThirtyEight calculated Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt (ANY/A) which is based on a QB’s pass yards, pass attempts, interceptions, touchdowns, sacks, and sack yardage. The calculation is shown in the footnotes.
Here is a list of quarterbacks who had at least 10 regular-season starts, ranked #1 in ANY/A, and won the Super Bowl from 1990-2014.
1991: Mark Rypien (WSH)
1994: Steve Young (SF)
1999: Kurt Warner (STL)
2006: Peyton Manning (IND)
2009: Drew Brees (NO)
And all of those quarterbacks were Super Bowl MVP.
To put the numbers in perspective, Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman ranked 3rd in ANY/A in 1992 and 2nd in 1993 and 1995. Brett Favre was ranked 2nd in 1996 and 1997 and split Super Bowls. Kurt Warner was ranked #1 in ANY/A from 1999-01 and was 1-1 in Super Bowls with the Rams.
In the two Super Bowls between the Patriots and Giants, Tom Brady was ranked #1 in 2007 and #2 in 2011 while Eli Manning – who won those games and was the Super Bowl MVP of both games – was ranked #19 in 2007 and #5 in 2011. Brady’s ANY/A ranking in his Super Bowl winning seasons: 12 (2001), 9 (2003), 8 (2004), and 7 (2014).
Ben Roethlisberger 2008 was the lowest ranked Super Bowl winning quarterback in ANY/A, who met the 10 regular-season starts requirement. Only one Super Bowl winning team did not meet the qualifying mark: the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
The result? You don’t need to be the best at ANY/A, but it helps to be close. And I am sure if I wanted to I could research the numbers further on how many times did a Super Bowl feature QBs ranked in the Top 5 or 10 in ANY/A.
Memo to self… Bookmark for Super Bowl
L 50 post.
The second question was how much will Drew Brees decline. I have been hearing this among people predicting the Saints season and fantasy owners.
What FiveThirtyEight discovered is that Brees’ decline is being greatly exaggerated.
Which is why I think these numbers support why I think the Saints and Falcons will make a return to the playoffs in 2015.