1. New Orleans Saints (7-9 in 2007)
On offense Drew Brees stays productive while slicing his interception rate in half. Reggie Bush can improve big time and have a breakout season, becoming the elite RB that many people expected when he was drafted. Robert Meachem should develop into a great No. 2 option to superstar Marques Colston. And the offensive line continues to play at a high level. I also expect Jeremy Shockey to help out Brees a lot settling down in the middle of the field and putting up big numbers this season. He may develop into the league’s top receiving TE with Brees as his QB.
On D Sedrick Ellis gives them the fiercest pass rushing DT they need, and Jonathon Vilma regains his 2004 and 2005 form back in the 4-3 defense. I also feel like the Saints FINALLY fill the hole at No. 2 CB with the combination of Tracy Porter and Randall Gay. Their D is looking improved and I think that they might have the overall most talented offense in the NFC.
Key Additions: QB Mark Brunell, TE Jeremy Shockey, G/T Carl Nicks, DT Sedrick Ellis, DE Bobby McCray, LB Jonathon Vilma, CB Randall Gay, CB Tracy Porter
Key Losses: C Jeff Faine, LB Brian Simmons
2. Carolina Panthers (7-9 in 2007)
I'm just not sold on the Panthers. I'm not entirely sure of what to think of the Williams/Stewart tandem. They have a lot to prove and I guess we'll find out. I'm also sceptical of Delhomme's durability and the Steve Smith suspension doesn't help either. On other sides of the ball their special teams still aren't very good and their D is lacking the experience they've had in prior years (they lost a lot of pieces this year). A lot of people think this team can compete with the Saints for the division but for these reasons I just have my doubts.
Key Aquisitions: RB Jonathon Stewart, LB Dan Connor, T/G Jeff Otah, DT Darwin Walker, FS Terrence Holt, WR Mushin Muhammad, WR D.J. Hackett
Key Losses: DE Mike Rucker, C Justin Hartwig, DT Kris Jenkins, LB Dan Morgan, DT Kindal Moorehead, LB Dan Morgan, SS Marquand Manuel, WR Drew Carter, RB DeShaun Foster, QB David Carr, G Mike Wahle, WR Keary Colbert
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9-7 in 2007)
I don't really know what to think or expect out of Tampa (just like last season). I'm putting them losing the tiebreaker to Carolina right now but I feel like they could just as easily be competing for the division crown.
My main concerns are dealing with Garcia and Galloway's age. They played great last season but will they act their age this year? Also I feel like Ernest Graham has a lot to prove this season so I'm not sure what he'll be like either. I feel like he's in for a sophomore slump.
Their D continues to get older while I think Gaines Adams will continue to improve and Aquid Talib fits right into the Tampa 2. Just as a whole I feel like this team is just a step below the Saints and will lose the tie-breaker to the Panthers.
Key Additions: QB Brian Griese, RB Warrick Dunn, TE Ben Troupe, C Jeff Faine, DE Marques Douglas, LB Teddy Lehman, FS Eugene Wilson, CB Aqib Talib, WR Dexter Jackson, OL Jeremy Zuttah
Key Losses: RB Michael Pittman, TE Anthony Becht, T Luke Petitgout, C John Wade, DE Greg Spires, CB Brian Kelly
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-12 in 2007)
This was a pretty easy call I'm not gonna lie. Although I think this team is moving in the right direction. On the optimistic side I think Roddy White and Michael Turner can be young stars in the league (even with the rookie starting QB). But that's just the thing. The ROOKIE STARTING QB! This team is rebuilding. They really need to improve their offensive line and go out and get a TE of the future in the next draft/free agency period.
On D John Abraham quietly puts in another great year, while 2nd year man Jammal Anderson brings additional sacks to his total. I also think that Michael Boley can be a star linebacker in this league. They just are in for a long rebuilding year and you can't forget that. They will (hopefully) continue to get better and find some surprise talent along the way and hopefully be back in contention in 2 years.
Key Additions: QB Matt Ryan, RB Michael Turner, WR Harry Douglas, TE Marcus Pollard, TE Ben Hartsock, OT Sam Baker, DT Kindal Moorehead, LB Curtis Lofton, DB Von Hutchins, CB Chevis Jackson, S Thomas DeCoud, S Erik Coleman
Key Losses: QB Byron Leftwich, RB Warrick Dunn, WR Joe Horn, OT Wayne Gandy, TE Alge Crumpler, TE Dwayne Blakley, LB Demorrio Williams, CB DeAngelo Hall, S Chris Crocker, CB Jimmy Williams, CB Lewis Sanders