The beginning of all is upon us, and with it marks the beginning of the South’s favorite sport, football. There is no arguing that Louisiana is SEC country with LSU located in the state capital of Baton Rouge. Tigers fans would give a left arm to see their team win the SEC championship in Atlanta in December, let alone a national title. The football allegiance of these state’s most populous and famous city, New Orleans, however, lies with the Saints which boast some of the most passionate fans you will find across any American sports team. The last decade has been an up and down journey for the Saints. Their journey closely aligns with the experiences of the people of New Orleans who suffered great hardship due to the destruction to their city caused by Hurricane Katrina more than a decade ago. In the ensuing years, the Saints, in some ways, served not only as a beacon of hope, but as a unifying thread that tied together all members of this incredibly diverse city. The Saints, led by their talented and infallible quarterback, Drew Brees, capped off a wonderful 2009 season with a thrilling SuperBowl Victory.
That was six years ago, however. NFL Pundits have been proclaiming all offseason that the NFC South is the weakest amongst the league’s divisions. It is true that the Saints, Falcons, Panthers, or Buccaneers are not legitmate contenders for the conference championship, let alone the Super Bowl.
The Bucs with a weak defense, a talent-defficent offesnive line, and rookie quarterback will most likely finish at the bottom of the division. Most analysts are split between the Falcons, the Panthers, and the Saints as the division favorites. The Falcons, if their O-line holds up will have a powerful offensive attack, but it remains to be seen if first year coach and defensive guru, Dan Quinn, can transform their previously lackluster defense. The Carolina Panthers, who have won the division the last two years, will be lead by the always exciting Cam Newton. Their Achilles heel lies in the fact they don’t have any legitimate receiving threats as their second-year star wide out, Kelvin Benjamin is out for the season.
The Saints could very well end up as the division champions come January. A lot of it depends on how Brees, 36, performs in the twilight of his career. While he is still an elite qb, many experts believed he did experience a decline last year. The defense, while young and injured, should still be solid led by defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan. Jimmy Graham did depart, but Brandin Cooks should largely fill this receiving gap. To watch all these players in action, tune into Fox at 4 pm EST this Sunday to watch the Saints take on the Arizona Cardinals.