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nfl season preview

NFL Season Preview: NFC South

The NFL season begins in eight days, which is later than usual and still sooner than one realizes. We thought we'd take a look at each NFL division over the next fortnight, a scattershot glimpse that will be more updated than the magazine you grabbed before your flight but far less informative and helpful. Today: the NFC South!

NFC SOUTH

1. Atlanta Falcons. (Projected record: 12-4)
Most important player: Matt Ryan.
Top newcomer: Dunta Robinson.
Person to root against: Jonathan Babineaux.
Fictional organizational factoid: Chipper Jones is expected to recover in time to give Bobby Cox a chance to win one last Super Bowl.
Celebrity fan: Hammer.
Games against NY teams: None.

2. New Orleans Saints. (Projected record: 11-5)
Most important player: Drew Brees.
Top newcomer: Alex Brown.
Person to root against: Jeremy Shockey.
Fictional organizational factoid: The New Orleans Saints did not end decades of futility and bring a small measure of hope and joy to a devastated area by winning the Super Bowl last year. They didn't.
Celebrity fan: Brad Pitt.
Games against NY teams: None.

3. Carolina Panthers. (Projected record: 6-10)
Most important player: Steve Smith.
Top newcomer: Jimmy Clausen.
Person to root against: Rae Carruth.
Fictional organizational factoid: For the past two seasons, former quarterback Jake Delhomme had a special deal in which he received his paychecks from the opposing teams.
Celebrity fan: Marg Helgenberger.
Games against NY teams: Week 1, September 9, at Giants.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers. (Projected record: 3-13)
Most important player: Cadillac Williams.
Top newcomer: Arrelious Benn.
Person to root against: Kellen Winslow.
Fictional organizational factoid: The whole franchise is, in fact, a figment of Chris Berman's imagination, created as he stares, child-like, in to a snow globe.
Celebrity fan: Captain Fear.
Games against NY teams: None.

Related:
AFC North
AFC South
AFC West
NFC North
NFC West

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Photo: Marc Serota/Getty Images, Chris Graythen/Getty Images, Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images, J. Meric/Getty Images