How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: NFC South

How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: NFC South

by July 10, 2021 2 comments

As training camp approaches, every team has some level of excitement. Some teams are looking to contend in 2021. Others only want to move in the right direction. However, the NFL is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season.

With as volatile as football can be, the smallest of breaks could launch a Super Bowl run. Even the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars could position themselves to be a contender. Unlikely? Sure, but football is unpredictable for a reason. There is a path for all 32 teams to win Super Bowl LVI.

Let’s continue with the NFC South.

Previous: AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC WestNFC East, NFC North

New Orleans Saints

The mystery of the Saints’ starting quarterback has yet to be solved, so for the sake of this exercise assume neither quarterback (Jameis Winston or Taysom Hill) implodes. Offensively, the Saints are versatile with an elite offensive line and excellent weapons. Alvin Kamara is an ideal running back for either Winston or Hill, and a group of pass-catchers led by Michael Thomas and Adam Trautman could cause damage. With Sean Payton still calling plays, the Saints would have a high-floor offense even if Winston continues to turn the ball over or if Hill is an inefficient passer.

On defense, the Saints have a bevy of superstars. While on the older side, Cameron Jordan and Demario Davis are still among the elite at their positions. Marcus Lattimore is a premier cover corner, and Marcus Williams is a stellar safety. Young players such as Zack Baun and Marcus Davenport can take that next step toward being stars. New Orleans ranked in the top five in terms of points allowed, yards allowed, yards per pass allowed, and yards per rush allowed. They are a serious threat to be the No.1 defense in football, continuing to raise the floor of the team as a whole.

Few teams offer as much star power on both sides of the ball as the Saints do. They could ride a streaky Winston or Hill plus a sturdy defense to the team’s second Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Naturally, the Buccaneers are the lone team in this exercise coming off a Super Bowl triumph. Tampa Bay is the only team in the modern era to win a Super Bowl and then immediately bring all 22 offensive and defensive starters back for the next season. The Buccaneers have the best roster in the NFL, and unlike the rest of the league, they have few impactful pieces that have to be accommodated. Sure, Tampa Bay made seven selections in the draft, but none of them need to be productive as rookies. The Bucs can “run it back” in 2021, and they might be even better.

Offensively, the weakness might be Tom Brady; the offense is that good. The weapons are as deep as any team in football in terms of running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends. Tampa has three top-30 running backs, three No.1 wide receivers, and three top-20 tight ends. Most teams have one or two legitimate stars on the offense. Tampa Bay could argue they have nine weapons that could win an individual game. The Buccaneers also have a reasonable offensive line bolstered by Ali Marpet and Tristan Wirfs.

Few in the NFL have a star on each level of the defense. Tampa Bay has multiple star-level players in each part of the defense. Vita Vea and Ndamukong Suh are devastating interior defenders. Shaquil Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul are one of the best edge duos in football. Lavonte David and Devin White are studs at linebacker. Carlton Davis, Jamel Dean, and Sean Murphy-Bunting are terrific young corners. Antoine Winfield Jr. had a ridiculous rookie season. Jordan Whitehead is the only member of the nickel defense that does not have a strong case of being a superstar. This is the Dream Team on the gridiron.

Carolina Panthers

While Sam Darnold has yet to inspire much confidence in his time in the NFL, this is the best offense he has ever been a member of. D.J. Moore is the first top-30 receiver Darnold has been able to throw the football to, and Christian McCaffrey deserves the elite label as much as any player in football (besides Aaron Donald). Darnold also gets to reunite with Robby Anderson, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady is a skyscraper worth of levels above Adam Gase. Even if Darnold replicates his Jets days, McCaffrey can single-handedly win a handful of games. Having a poor outlook at quarterback and the offensive line is not ideal, but having McCaffrey and Moore soothes the pain.

Defensively, the Panthers played at a reasonable level. Carolina’s pass defense was in the top half of the NFL. While the run defense resembled Swiss cheese, it is perhaps the most fixable issue a team can have. Second-year defensive tackle Derrick Brown should help out, and if the Panthers adjust their run fits slightly (or just add another player into the box at times), Carolina can force teams to throw the football. This approach enables Brian Burns to flash and lets playmakers in the secondary such as Jeremy Chinn and rookie Jaycee Horn roam. Improvement from their young defense could launch the 18th-ranked Panthers into a formidable, top-10 defensive unit in the NFL.

Atlanta Falcons

Despite trading perhaps the best player in team history, the Falcons have enough pieces to compete in 2021. Offensively, the line is once again led by Matt Ryan. There have been few elite seasons in the Ryan era, but Ryan gives the offense a reasonable floor. Throw in weapons such as Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst, and rookie Kyle Pitts, and the Falcons will be hovering between 25 and 30 points per game again.

To maximize the offense, Atlanta could utilize Pitts as a wide receiver rather than looking at the tight end label. Hurst is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, and using Pitts as a No.2 wide receiver is likely a better option than using him as a traditional tight end.

The Falcons have an underwhelming defense, but they do have a pair of stars. Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones are among the best players in the NFL at their positions. Foyesade Oluokun is the best player you have never heard of. After a poor first four weeks in 2020, the Falcons ended the season with the 19th-ranked scoring defense, but in the final 12 games, it ranked 14th. For context, the Falcons allowed fewer points than the “elite” Bears defense.

The Falcons went 0-8 in games decided by seven points or fewer. That is unlikely to happen again. If the Falcons have a reasonable record in close games, the Falcons could slip into the playoffs. It may be a long shot, but the Falcons have been to the Super Bowl in the Ryan era.


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I’m Ryan Potts. Some people affectionately call me Splash. I am renowned for being a misplaced Ravens, Cavs, Wings & Braves fan. Twitter: MrSplashMan19

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