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NFC South Division Predictions – Week 1 to 4

Rather than take each team on its own, I have decided to split the season into 4 sections and used previous match-ups and momentum as a factor in trying to predict each teams result for that particular week.

Week 1

Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos

A re-run of SB50 and the match up of the week since the Pats will be Brady-less against the Cardinals. With the exception of Josh Norman, the Panthers line up pretty much as per the SB. The Broncos on the other hand have been forced to make a few changes with the departure of Manning, Trevathan and Jackson. The resigning of Von Miller was essential for the Broncos but the Panthers, still hurting from losing in the SB, silence the home fans at the Sports Authority Field and come away with a big W in the opener.

Result – Panthers win

Oakland Raiders v New Orleans Saints

With Drew Brees under centre, scoring is never a problem but it’s the Saints’ defensive woes which prove to be their downfall. The Raiders prove that last years’ potential is coming to fruition as the team on the rise as they open up with a win in the Superdome. This is just the kind of marker the Raiders wanted to put down to show that they are serious contenders for the AFC West. Carr, Cooper and Latavius Murray are too much for the Saints to handle in a tightly fought win for the Silver and Black win.

Result – Saints loss

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons

The first divisional game of the season. The Bucs owned the Falcons in 2015 and this trend continued on the opening day of the season. The Bucs, who have been traditionally good against the run, upgrade of their pass defence proves to be the difference between the two rivals as they come away with an opening day victory for the first time since 2012.

Result – Bucs win

Week 2

New Orleans Saints v New York Giants

The Giants are on a roll after their opening day win against the Cowboys and are more than a match for a Saints team coming off an opening day loss in The Big Easy. With a revamped D-line shutting down the Saints and OBJ having a big day against the secondary, it is a day to forget for the Saints.

Result – Saints loss

San Fransisco 49-ers v Carolina Panthers

The Panthers first home game of the season turns out to be a stroll in the Charlotte sunshine as a Cam Newton inspired display sees the Panthers end this game as a contest by half time. Kelvin Benjamin gets in on the act as he tries to recover his form from his rookie season.

Result – Panthers win

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Arizona Cardinals

The feel good factor from the opening day victory against the Dirty Birds will be dented somewhat in the desert as the Cardinals record their second straight W of the season (after beating a Jimmy Garoppolo led Patriots team in week 1). Although suffering their first loss of the season, the Bucs will put up a strong fight against one of the play-off teams from 2015 to show that they can compete against the top teams in the NFL.

Result – Bucs loss

Atlanta Falcons v Oakland Raiders

Again Oakland’s impressive Defence will be enough to see off the Falcons at the Colosseum. The Falcons inability to stop the opposition from scoring will prove to be their downfall. Raiders fans start dreaming of a return to the play-offs since their run to Super Bowl XXXVII as the Falcons 5-0 start from 2015 is a distant memory.

Result – Falcons loss

Week 3

Minnesota Vikings v Carolina Panthers

Overshadowed by the OBJ/Norman circus at the MetLife on the same day, both teams put their 100% record on the line in this clash of the 2015 play-off teams. Despite a strong performance by Teddy Bridgewater, the Panthers just manage to sneak a win as they are pushed all the way by a Vikings team with desires for the post season in 2016.

Result – Panthers win

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints

Both teams having identical 0-2 records are pretty much in a win or bust situation as early as week 3. The Saints have won 4 out of the last 5 encounters against the Falcons in the Superdome and despite being outplayed, it’s the Saints who emerge victorious in what will be a rare W in 2016 as the pressure mounts on the winless Falcons.

Result – Saints win

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Billed as Todd Gurley v Doug Martin, it’s the Bucs twin towers of Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson who prove to be the match winners as Winston airs it out as both D-lines stifle the running game. The Bucs win their opening home game of the season as the Rams, still with 1st round pick Jared Goff cooling his heels on the bench, have a slow start to their Los Angeles venture.

Result – Bucs win

Week 4

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons

The shock result of the season thus far as the winless Falcons sneak a big W against the undefeated Panthers. Julio Jones has a career day against the Panthers secondary as Matt Ryan finds his favourite target with regularity to send the Falcons fans home happy after a poor start to the season.

Result – Falcons win

Denver Broncos v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The biggest test of the year so far for the Bucs as the defending SB champs come to town. Despite outplaying the Broncos on Offense, the Broncos impressive secondary limit the Bucs to field goals in the red zone whilst steady play from Sanchez gives the Broncos the lead until late in the 4th quarter when on the last drive of the game, the Bucs’ 2nd round kicker has the chance to prove he can handle the pressure associated with the high draft pick and converts to give the Bucs a huge win and leaves them joint top of the division after week 4.

Result – Buccaneers win

New Orleans Saints v San Diego Chargers

Again, problems in the Saints’ secondary allow Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen to connect once too often to give the Chargers their first win of the season whilst stopping any momentum the Saints had after the week 3 win against the Falcons. On the plus side for the Saints, Brees and Cooks carry on their good start to the season which is one of the few shining lights for New Orleans season thus far.

Result – Saints loss

Division Standings After Week 4

Carolina Panthers 3-1

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3-1

New Orleans Saints 1-3

Atlanta Falcons 1-3

 

Photo copyright: ABC News.

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