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Since the NFC South was first put together five years ago, there has never been one team repeat in back to back years as divisional champ.  

And in 2008, it is just as wide open.  

Note:  Teams listed in predicted order of finish

New Orleans Saints

Having acquired and drafted LB Jonathan Vilma, DT Sedrick Ellis, and TE Jeremy Shockey, the Saints have clearly put themselves as the front runners in the NFC South.  

And barring injuries to any of their play makers like QB Drew Brees, RB Reggie Bush, and WR Marques Colston, the Saints should find themselves back in the playoffs in 2008.   

While all this offense will enable them to beat anyone on any given day, the health and effectiveness of RB Deuce McAllister will determine just how far they can go in the playoffs. 

Predicted Record:  11-5

Playoffs:  Yes

Carolina Panthers

With QB Jake Delhomme healthy again and the additions of WR’s D.J. Hackett and Muhsin Muhammad along with rookie draft pick Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers have placed themselves back in the playoff race.  

Both Hackett and Muhammad will clearly take pressure off of Pro Bowl WR Steve Smith and Stewart will team with DeAngelo Williams to form a nice young running attack.  

And with an already sound defense, expect the Panthers to quietly emerge as one of the better teams in the NFC in 2008.  

Predicted Record:  10-6

Playoffs:  Yes

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Outside of Ernest Graham who emerged last season when Carnell “Cadillac” Williams went down with a season ending injury, the Buccaneers simply have no offense.  

When Joey Galloway and Jeff Garcia who are 36 and 38 respectively are the main focal points of your offense, the Bucs are really rolling the dice.  

However, with an always stingy defense who will keep them in many games, the Bucs will find ways to win certain games.  They just wont win enough to make the playoffs. 

Predicted Record:  7-9

Playoffs:  No

Atlanta Falcons

With new faces to their franchise in rookie QB Matt Ryan and free acquisition RB Michael Turner, the Falcons have set a foundation to finally build upon.  And when you complement Ryan and Turner with solid receivers in Michael Jenkins and Roddy White, Falcon fans have a competitive team that they can root for. 

Yes, the Falcons will experience a great deal of growing pains like any young team, but they are well on their way to where they want to be.   

Predicted Record:  5-11

Playoffs:  No

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