FLOWERY BRANCH – Fox Sports NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson believes the NFC South is a two-team race between the Falcons and the New Orleans Saints.
He gives the nod to the Falcons and the Saints because they have veteran-laden teams. However, he didn’t pick one team over the other.
“I think the Saints and the Falcons, both will be extremely strong,” Johnson said on a recent conference call. “I think when you look at the entire league, what we are going to find out in the early part of the season is because we didn’t have the offseason programs and all of the minicamps, I think because of that, the veteran teams and the teams that retained their coaches, will be much stronger and so much better than some of the other teams.”
Johnson doesn’t believe that Tampa Bay will build on their 10-6 season.
“I don’t see Tampa duplicating what they did a year ago when they won 10 ball games,” Johnson said. “They have a young team and they should get better.”
The former Cowboys and Dolphins head coach isn’t expecting much from Carolina and first-year coach Ron Rivera.
“Carolina is going to struggle with a new coaching staff and with some young players but the veteran teams like the Saints and the Falcons, I think they will look very good and so much better than the others early in the season,” Johnson said. “It’s a two-team race as far as I’m concerned.”
How are you ranking the teams in the NFC South?
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog