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CHICKS ON FOOTBALL: NFC South picks

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When the divisions were first realigned last year, the NFC South hardly looked like a formidable powerhouse. But one year later this promises to be the most competitive division in the NFC. Led by the World Champion Bucs, all four teams are certain to make some noise as they rumble for the top spot.

Chick Picks:

1. Tampa Bay Even before Coach Gruden promised to run around Tampa in just a jockstrap if his boys repeated, the had our vote to repeat their feat in the NFC. , , and lead an all-star cast that is itchin¿ to prove their magical season was no fluke. And their bruising defense could be even scarier with the return of a healthy and the addition of playmaker LB . While the Bucs lack a stud running back, has proven to be very adept at guiding Gruden¿s unit with the assistance of his beefy receivers. 2. Atlanta Last year the put a big, fat exclamation point on their breakthrough season with a shocking playoff victory at Lambeau Field. Mike Vick rocked the gridiron in 2002 with his superhuman abilities, while the defense was among the league¿s best with 47 sacks and 39 takeaways. This year should be even more exciting as Mike has a hot new playmate to receive his passes in . 3. New Orleans , , and Donte` Stallworth are the core of one of the most potentially explosive offenses in the league. And the defense was boosted during the off-season with the acquisition of LB , S and rookie DT . But until they find a cure for their December blues, the will be staying home redecorating in January. 4. Carolina The may be ranked at the back of the pack, but make no mistake: these lads are no pushovers! In 2002 their sack-happy defense was ranked second in the NFL in total yardage (290.4 per game) as well as sacks (52). And their lackluster offense received a much needed shot of life from running back . Unfortunately, the are still a quarterback away from getting us Chicks heated up.

Other Predictions:

Top Gun — QB Mike Vick (Falcons): Quick Vick is known more for his turbo legs than his potent gun. But this season Vick will be better able to show off his rocket arm as he lights up the gridiron with new pals and . Go, Superman!!! Offensive Crush — RB (Saints): Once moved out of the way, the Deuce was set loose and proved himself to be one of the most explosive backs in the game. The elusive Deuce can score from anywhere on the field and averaged a touchdown a week last season. Deuce should continue to rack up the fat stats in his second year as a starter! Defensive Crush — DE (Panthers): Last season hot Peppers was more than his opponents could handle as he racked up 12 sacks and 5 forced fumbles in just 12 games. Just imagine the juicy numbers he could have produced without the silly suspension! This year Julius has added even more brawn to his beefy bod and should be every quarterback¿s worst nightmare plus every Chick's best dream! Fresh Meat — DT (Saints): The are hoping this athletic and speedy tackle will help cure their struggles against the run (as well as help catch the elusive Vick!) After the gave up two first round draft choices to jump up and snag Sullivan, this dude better be as good as advertised! At least they could tell him how to spell his first name right! Aging Gracefully — QB (Buccaneers): Whoever said that only women peak in their mid-30s never met this Johnson! In 2002 the 34-year old Buc proved he still had some juice in his gun as he produced a career-high 92.9 passer rating and led his troops to a Super Bowl win. And in just 13 regular season games, Johnson tossed 22 TDs against just six picks. Coach Chucky sure has a knack for bringing out the best in his old gunslingers ¿ we cannot wait to enjoy more fireworks this season. High Blood Pressure — Coach Jim Haslett (Saints): Coach Haslett was a hero in 2001 after reviving the and bringing them to the divisional playoff game. But the next season his unit spun out of control and the word on the street was that his team had quit on him. For two straight seasons his have suffered a December meltdown causing them to miss the playoffs. Haslett has all the makings of a dangerous team in New Orleans. But everyone knows the Chicks don't like it if their guys can't finish their job!
Tagged: Falcons, Dolphins, Saints, Buccaneers, Panthers, Tebucky Jones, Joe Horn, Deuce McAllister, Aaron Brooks, Ricky Williams, Orlando Ruff, Derrick Brooks, Stephen Davis, Julius Peppers, Johnathan Sullivan

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