The league’s No. 1 scoring offense comes back in 2016 with a new toy added in Kelvin Benjamin. The offensive line remains the same, Jonathan Stewart continues to be an undervalued back when healthy and Cam Newton is the reigning NFL MVP.
Two things helped the Panthers become the best scoring offense in the NFL – time of possession and field position. The latter is directly correlated to the defense, which was in the top 10 league-wide for the fourth straight season. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis are arguably the best linebacking duo in the NFL.
The biggest question, of course, is how the rookie cornerbacks will do in place of Josh Norman. They did decently in the preseason, but everything is tougher in the regular season. And 16 games can be a long time for a first-year player.
Best player ever: 1 Cam Newton
The offense has the potential to be fun this season with former offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in charge. Jameis Winston has a full year under his belt, and he has Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans to throw to.
Let’s not forget Doug Martin. The running back was a first-team All Pro last season with 1,402 rushing yards after two down seasons following his breakout rookie year.
The Bucs tried to strengthen their secondary by adding Brent Grimes.
With a second-year quarterback, it seems Tampa is in that 2012 Panthers spot where it’s a few pieces and a little more experience away from taking the next step.
Best player ever: 55 Derrick Brooks
The Falcons finally seem to have a decent offensive line with the addition of Alex Mack and another year at left tackle for Jake Matthews. Matt Ryan might have peaked, but at least he has Devonte Freeman in the backfield and Julio Jones to throw to.
Atlanta probably spent too much on receiver Mohamed Sanu, but it needed to upgrade the position from aging Roddy White.
On defense, it’s time to get a pass rush from former first-rounder Vic Beasley. The Clemson product hasn’t been consistent enough at outside linebacker, and he still needs to develop better pass rush techniques.
Best player ever: 21 Deion Sanders
The Saints gave up 476 points last season, by far the most in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is out, but how much better can that really bad defense be?
There are no big changes in personnel, even though safety Jairus Byrd is finally healthy.
On offense, Drew Brees will have a healthy Brandin Cooks to use, though the quarterback still needs to a find a rhythm with tight end Coby Fleener.
This might be another tough season for Brees & Co.
Best player ever: 9 Drew Brees