Despite all of the media focus in this strange offseason, the New Orleans Saints will still be the team to beat in the NFC South.
However, it's halfway through June and the Saints have yet to come to an agreement with their embittered quarterback, Drew Brees.
But that's perfectly fine.
Ever since the Saints made a turn around in 2006, they have become one of the more successful teams in the NFL, and that is not going to stop anytime soon.
Ever since 2006, the Saints have had a win-loss record 62-34 and have finished in first place in the NFC South three times.
The Saints have reduced winning to a repeatable formula and don't seem to be stopping anytime soon.
Despite the Bountygate scandal, the Brees contract holdouts and suspensions to coaches and players, the team is proceeding with their normal preparations for 2012.
According to ESPN's Pat Yasinkas, the Saints haven't been that adversely affected, and they aren't worried.
Wide receiver Lance Moore and safety Malcolm Jenkins see no reason why the Saints' chances of winning this year have been diminished. If anything, they can create some noise across the league by defying expectations.
There has been plenty of outside speculation that all the turmoil is going to cause the Saints to collapse completely. There’s no doubt every opponent on the schedule would like to help that process along.
Despite all the fanfare, hoopla and gaffes on the Saints' part this past offseason, they are not going to just lie down and let the rest of league walk all over them.
If anything, all of the media attention has motivated the team to overachieve and shake up the league standings as well as those in the NFC South.
In the end, the Saints will be competing with the Atlanta Falcons for first place in the conference.
Matt Ryan will definitely be a cause for concern.
Ryan has great wide receivers who can dominate a secondary—especially the Saints', which was 30th in league last year, allowing 259.8 yards per game, according to ESPN.com.
Moving on, Carolina has the potential to upset the Falcons and sneak into the playoffs as an NFC Wild Card due to their loaded offense.
Cam Newton is a dynamic player who can run past defense or throw the ball over them.
We'll have to wait and see if he is able to bypass the sophomore slump and put up number similar to his rookie year.
With Steve Smith, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen, the Panthers have enough talent to become one of the top-ranked offenses this upcoming season, but the defense really needs to shape up if the Panthers want to encounter any serious type of success.
They were ranked 13th and third in passing and rushing yardage accumulated per game last season by ESPN.com, but their defense was seriously lacking.
They were in the NFL cellar, ranked 24th and 25th in opponent passing and rushing yards, respectively.
Tampa Bay will most likely finish in last place.
Last season, they finished 4-12, and they don't seem to be poised to make a run at the postseason any time soon.
The Saints are going to remain winners of the NFC South because they have been there already.
Despite Payton's absence, the players on the team know what they have to do to be successful.
The media spotlight that has been focused on them these past few months has motivated the team to work extra hard and not feel sorry for themselves.
That is going to pay off with an NFC South championship and another return to the playoffs.
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