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NFC South

Last in an eight-part series as Times NFL writer Sam Farmer analyzes the league by division.

September 03, 2008|Sam Farmer

Today, NFC South:

Story lines

1 Looking for a Super Bowl dark horse? Don't overlook New Orleans. Drew Brees, one of the league's best quarterbacks, now has a big target in Jeremy Shockey, a healthy Deuce McAllister and a recommitted Reggie Bush, who has worked out like crazy to handle a bigger workload.

2 The Buccaneers are behind quarterback Jeff Garcia 100% . . . well, maybe 80%. After some coaxing, Tampa Bay admitted the obvious, that it made a big play for Brett Favre. That's OK, because Garcia has had to prove himself before. As in, every other place he's played.

3 as that just a mirage a few years ago when Jake Delhomme led Carolina to the Super Bowl, or is he really a good quarterback? A lot depends on the health of his elbow. Looks as if this is his last year to recapture the magic for the Panthers.


How they'll finish

1. New Orleans: Even though McAllister and Bush missed a combined 17 games last season, the Saints still ranked fourth in total yards.

2. Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers think they have a decent chance to become the first team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium.

3. Carolina: It doesn't help that Steve Smith, the Panthers' best player, has been suspended for the first two games.

4. Atlanta: If the Falcons win five games with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan at the helm, this season will be a big success.

-- Sam Farmer

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