While the Green Bay Packers only play one team from the NFC South division during their 2022-23 season, they should be keeping an eye on the entire division, especially for the playoffs.
2021 Record – 7-10
Locked into a full-on rebuild, the Atlanta Falcons are in need of their next franchise QB after their shipped out longtime franchise cornerstone Matt Ryan to the Colts. Signing a reclamation project in Marcu Mariota and pairing him with third-round rookie Desmond Ridder gives this position quite a bit of mobility, but nothing makes either option genuinely stand out.
Cordarelle Patterson, Kyle Pitts, and USC rookie WR Drake London are the top options on the offense, and with Calvin Ridley suspended for the entirety of this season due to betting on games, this offense will likely be quite a mess.
On defense, Deion Jones is likely on his way out the door at some point this offseason, as his large contract does not fit into the team’s future plans of trying to get younger and cheaper. This roster is likely three years away from being one year away, so they’re in for a long journey.
2021 Record – 5-12
While not as bad as the Falcons, the Carolina Panthers have quite a few holes to address, which also includes their QB. Selected in the same round as Ridder, Matt Corral looks to be the heir apparent to the struggling Sam Darnold, yet neither option should be considered a shoo-in at this point.
Injuries to Christian McCaffrey have limited the once-unstoppable back in recent seasons, so the hope of limiting his work to keep him healthy is at the forefront of all offensive planning during camps. Recent developments about a potential Robby Anderson retirement have stoked the fire of just how anemic this offense really can be, limiting any sort of production ceiling they may have.
Their defense is in solid hands with second-year CB Jaycee Horn looking to take another step in his ascension into one of the better young stud DBs in the league. HC Matt Rhule’s job security looks to get slimmer and slimmer as the days go on, and with another likely below-average season on the horizon, this team likely will be welcoming in another new HC next year.
New Orleans Saints
2021 Record – 9-8
One of the biggest wild cards in the NFL this upcoming season is the New Orleans Saints, who welcomed back Jameis Winston as their starting QB. Legal troubles surrounding Alvin Kamara cloud his potential impact and combined with Michael Thomas and his eventual return from injury and rookie WR Chris Olave’s acclimation to the NFL, this offense could be sneaky dangerous.
Defensively, safety Malcolm Jenkins decided to hang it up after 13 seasons, the final two of which were with the Saints. Tyrann Mathieu was brought in as his expensive replacement, and a career resurgence by the Honey Badger makes this unit look solid yet again. As Dennis Allen assumes the HC role after Sean Payton’s shocking retirement, the offense will be the reason why they struggle or why they succeed.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2021 Record – 13-4
Expecting the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to have had a down year this season was the likeliest of outcomes, all before Tom Brady decided to unretire.
With the Bucs having added Russell Gage and brought back every offensive option but Ronald Jones and Rob Gronkowski (so far), they look to be on another crash course for Super Bowl relevancy. Hosting the Packers in Week 3 presents Green Bay with another early-season chance to prove their worth, or to show that they are far from the team that they need to be.
As Bruce Arians traded his HC role in for a front-office job, Todd Bowles moved up the ranks and looks to be a solid fit to lead this team. With Brady looking no worse the wear after his brief retirement, the Buccaneers are yet again a major threat to come out of the NFC, which is looking quite weaker when compared to its AFC counterpart.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23