One Christmas Gift For Every NFC South Team In 2024

by Tyler Feinstein
Ball Carrier

The NFC South was the NFL’s weakest division in 2023, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being the lone bright spot and even won a playoff game. 2024 looks to be a more competitive season for the division with a lot of sweeping changes that happened in the offseason. But every team needs one Christmas wish to come true if they want to fulfill their ambitions for this season. In this article I will go over the biggest Christmas wish for every NFC South team

Atlanta Falcons: Crash The Playoff Party 

The Atlanta Falcons haven’t made the playoffs since 2017. This is the third longest active playoff drought in the NFL tied with NFC South Rival Carolina Panthers. But the tides could be turning in the Falcons favor in 2024

General Manager Terry Fontenot made many major moves this offseason. After firing Head Coach Arthur Smith after 3 straight 7-10 seasons, Terry decided to hire Rams Defensive Coordinator Rahim Morris to be the new sideline boss. Rahim was the Interim Head Coach for the Falcons in 2020, taking over after Head Coach Dan Quinn was dismissed. 

The player personnel is definitely more than good enough to win the division and earn a playoff spot. Kirk Cousins aims to give the Falcons Quarterback stability for the first time since franchise legend Matt Ryan was in town. 

Surrounding Kirk is a potent group of weapons with a punishing Running Back tandem of Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allegier leading the way on the ground. On the perimeter you have star wide receiver Drake London. Aside from London you have deep threat Darnell Mooney and a potentially sneaky #3 option in Rondale Moore. Tight End Kyle Pitts will look to rebound in new offensive coordinator Zac Robinson’s new offense. In addition to this excellent group of skill players, the Atlanta Falcons have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL anchored by Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary.

Defense was a strength for the Falcons last year but there’s been a ton of changes made to the side of the ball. But the cupboard is far from bare. New Defensive Coordinator Jimmy Lake has what looks to be a formidable front seven in 2024, highlighted by Grady Jarrett, one of the better Cornerbacks in the NFL in AJ Terrell, and star Safety Jessie Bates. Rookie Defensive Tackles Ruke Orhorhoro and Brandon Dorlus provide some youth on the interior as well. 

With the new and improved Atlanta roster, the Falcons look to cause some damage in 2024 and definitely have the talent to end their long playoff drought.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Improved Pass Defense 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a pleasant surprise in 2023. Quarterback Baker Mayfield revived his career and led the Bucs to an NFC South Title and their fourth straight playoff berth, the longest playoff streak in the NFC. Even more impressive, they demolished the defending NFC Champion Philadelphia Eagles in the wildcard round before falling to the Detroit Lions in the divisional round. 

Most of the main contributors from last year return, including the aforementioned Baker Mayfield, the star Wide Receiver tandem of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, a solid offensive line highlighted by Tristan Wirfs and Luke Goedeke, longtime veteran Linebacker Lavonte David, stalwart Defensive Tackle Vita Vea and elite safety Antoine Winfield Jr. 

But if Tampa Bay wants to make a deeper playoff push, one unit has to make a major leap, the pass defense. This was the weak link of the Buccaneers last year and proved to be a major achilles heel for most of the season. The Cornerback room in particular needs to step up after Carlton Davis got traded to the Lions in the offseason. Jamel Dean is a solid Corner but one of Zyon McCollum, Izien Christian, Tavierre Thomas or Bryce Hall has to step up.

This team is definitely a sneaky team to watch and could go further than most expect if the back end can improve.

New Orleans Saints: More Skill Position Production

Ever since all time great Drew Brees hung up the cleats, the Saints offense has struggled to gain any traction. Quarterback Derek Carr was brought in to bring stability at the quarterback position and he did a solid job, throwing for 3878 yards, 25 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. 

But while Derek Carr held his end of the bargain, the skill position players for the most part underperformed. Wide Receiver Chris Olave had a great season as Derek Carr’s top weapon, but outside of him, the skill players were not very productive. 

Alvin Kamara is coming off the worst season of his career after being a workhorse engine to the Saints offense seasons prior. Second year running back Kendre Miller could see an increased workload in the backfield next to Alvin Kamara. One of Rashid Shaheed, Cedrick Wilson, or AT Perry will have to step up opposite of Chris Olave.

The defense will do its part again in 2024, headlined by longtime edge rusher Cameron Jordan, linebacker DeMario Davis, and an elite secondary comprised of Tyrann Mathieu, Marshon Lattimore, Paulson Adebo and rookie second round pick Kool Aid McKinstry. 

If the skill positions can produce more in 2024, the New Orleans Saints could definitely make a run at the NFC South crown.

Carolina Panthers: Bryce Young Proves He’s The Guy 

The Carolina Panthers hit rock bottom in 2023. They finished with a league worst 2-15 record, Head Coach Frank Reich got fired after an atrocious 1-10 start, General Manager Scott Fitterer got fired after 3 seasons, and 2023 1st overall pick quarterback Bryce Young struggled as a rookie. But there is one silver lining about hitting rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.

Newly appointed General Manager Dan Morgan made a major roster shuffle in 2024 to help out his young quarterback. The first line of business was hitting NFC South rival Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Dave Caneles as the team’s new Head Coach. 

Dave has a strong history of developing Quarterbacks, including Geno Smith’s Comeback Player of the Year season in 2022 and elevating Baker Mayfield to a career best season in 2023. Bryce Young has excellent talent and it will be up to Dave Canales and the coaching staff to maximize Bryce Young’s potential. 

The supporting cast also received improvements around Bryce Young. Dan Morgan attacked the interior of the offensive line this offseason by adding offensive guards Robert Hunt and Damien Lewis. Upgrades weren’t limited to just the offensive line, the skill positions also got revamped.

Trading for Steelers Wide Receiver Diontae Johnson was a good start, in addition to drafting South Carolina stud Wide Receiver Xavier Leggete with the 32nd overall pick in the 2024 draft. Second year Wide Receiver Jonathan Mingo also has room to grow. The running game received a nice addition in Texas standout Running Back Jonathan Brooks in round 2. 

With a lot of major improvements made across the board, Bryce Young could be poised for a good second year. If he can take a major leap next season, the Carolina Panthers will have their franchise building block for the next decade plus.

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