Striplv Magazine - The Sexiest Magazine on the Planet, Issue 1017

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Page 34 of 79

NFC South Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Some experts seem to think this team looks and feels like the Carolina Panthers did just before their breakout season, poised to make their first playoff appearance in a decade after diversifying an unbalanced offense. Last season the Bucs were mathematically in playoff contention heading into the last Sunday of the season but just missed out. Now, with a young, aggressive defense, and a third-year quarterback in Jameis Winston about to come into his own, along with having the best receiving tandem in the division in Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, not to mention rookie tight end O.J. Howard and running back Doug Martin on offense, this Tampa Bay team will win the division for the first time since 2007. Atlanta Falcons – While the Falcons may arguably have the most talented locker room in the league (quarterback Matt Ryan, running back Devonta Freeman, offensive left tackle Jake Matthews, nose Dontari Poe, and cornerback Desmond Trufant to name a few) and should be heading into the season as the defending World Champions, they are not and their big Super Bowl loss could have a drastic effect on how they play this year. Even though they will get a much-needed jolt of energy with a new stadium, will it be enough to overcome also losing offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan? A midseason stretch of four road games in five weeks that includes trips to New England and Seattle will certainly be a challenge for Atlanta. Carolina Panthers – Just as the Dolphins put too much stock in Ryan Tannehill, so the Panthers do in Cam Newton. How Newton rehabs from shoulder surgery and avoids, re-injury will be the key to Carolina’s success. Some of that will come from his protection on the offensive line as Michael Oher should move back to right tackle once he passes concussion protocols, and Matt Kalil must get better against the rush if he is to be effective on Newton’s blind side. Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey could be dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. While 37-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers won’t make much of an impact for the team, it’s nice to see him back in a Panthers uniform to most likely close out his career. He played for Carolina from 2002-09 before going to Chicago (2010-13) and Green Bay (2014-16). New Orleans Saints – Adding 32-year-old future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson to the backfield might provide great intrigue for the Saints, but it won’t dramatically change their outcome this season. Losing a top wide receiver like Brandin Cooks to New England hurt their offense. While Drew Brees is still the phenomenal quarterback he is, he has not taken New Orleans any better than 7-9 for the past three seasons, and there’s little reason to think this season will be any different. The Saints have a tough opening schedule with three of their first four games on the road, with their only home game during that stretch will be against the Patriots.

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