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Atlanta still the Favorite to win 2013 NFC South

The NFL season is nearly upon us. The season opens Thursday with one game, has a full schedule on Sunday and two games Monday.

This season the NFC South is expected to be much more competitive than it was last season.

In 2012, the Atlanta Falcons ran away and hid winning the divisions by six games over the three other clubs the New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Most still consider the Falcons the odds on favorite to win the division. However, most feel the Falcons will not win by as large a margin as they did last season.

Some NFL pundits have the Falcons winning just 10 games, compared to the 13 they won last season, while others believe they might not even make the postseason as New Orleans may win the division. The two teams have flip flopped the division title the past four seasons.

Atlanta was quite lucky last season in close games. Heading into this season, the Falcons defense is suspect, with the loss of John Abraham to rush the passer. Added to that is a difficult schedule the Falcons face and you can see why many have said Atlanta might win 10 or even fewer games.

With Sean Payton returning to the sidelines for the New Orleans Saints, it should be worth two wins at most. Most football writers believe the Saints will not even reach the .500 mark. Part of that is due to a tough schedule and the lack of a defense.

The defense is downright awful, with the lack of talent along the entire front seven. However, last season they were historically awful allowing the most yards in NFL history for one season.

Changes are that will not happen again this season, but you never know especially with Rob Ryan taking over the reins of the defense.

Cam Newton is a big question mark in Carolina. He had an excellent season his first year on 2011, a slow start to his second year in 2012 and what will 2013 bring.

Newton has all the tools with a powerful arm, yet he is not as accurate as some other elite quarterbacks. Where he makes up for that, is in his running and scrambling abilities. The second half of his season was strong last year and he could lead Carolina to a strong showing in the division, but falling short of the postseason.

Tampa Bay is expected to improve over last season, but by how much is still up in the air. Josh Freeman the team’s quarterback has been too inconsistent thus far in his career. Nevertheless, Coach Greg Schiano had a fine draft this offseason and those players will make an immediate impact, which could help the Buccaneers reach the .500 mark or even cross over it.

Nevertheless, look for the Atlanta Falcons to win the division, with Carolina finishing second, New Orleans third and the Buccaneers last.

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