In the league’s most quarterback-rich division, all bets could be off. Here are five things to look for in the NFC South in 2018.
Much like the AFC South, its counterpart division in the NFC has all the makings for a shootout in 2018.
At least three teams in the NFC South are in the Super Bowl conversation (Saints, Falcons, Panthers). All three quarterbacks for those three teams have either won a Super Bowl or played in one (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton). All three of those teams won at least 10 games last year, and all three of those teams made the playoffs. One of those teams (Saints) came just minutes away from reaching the NFC Championship Game. The other two teams have reached the Super Bowl in two of the last three years.
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been left out of all the excitement, currently riding a 10-year playoff drought. Is this the year they finally break through and join the other teams in the race for a championship? We’ll find out.
Thus, here are five things to look for in the NFC South in 2018…
5. Panthers look for big season from Christian McCaffrey
There is a new No. 1 running back in Carolina following the release of longtime starter Jonathan Stewart, who is the all-time rushing leader in franchise history. Christian McCaffrey is stepping into that role in 2018 and beyond, and the Panthers are looking for him to have a big year.
Carolina selected McCaffrey with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 draft with big expectations for him (Leonard Fournette was the only running back chosen ahead of him). But during his rookie season, McCaffrey spent more time catching passes than he did running the football. He only rushed for 435 yards and two touchdowns, but he did record 651 receiving yards and caught five touchdown passes.
Last year, Stewart was still the top dog in the running back department, but those needs are changing this season. As Carolina’s new top running back, look for McCaffrey to get a lot more carries in 2018 and to get back to putting up rushing numbers similar to those he recorded in college; at Stanford in 2016, McCaffrey led the Pac-12 with 1,603 rushing yards.
If you’re playing fantasy football this year, McCaffrey is definitely worth taking a look at.