The Atlanta Falcons have a great chance to win the NFC South in 2012. Part of that has to do with the advantages they have over other teams within the division.
The NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in football historically, and will be decided within the last three weeks of the season like it always has been. The Falcons should be the favorite to win the division, and most of that will have to do with how they match up with their divisional opponents.
In a unit-by-unit look at the division, the Falcons had the following matchups stand out as an advantage over their primary rivals.
Advantage: Falcons' pass defense vs. Panthers' pass offense
The Falcons played well against Cam Newton in 2011, allowing just two touchdowns and intercepting him five times in the two games last year. The Falcons matchup is only going to get better with Dunta Robinson at the nickel and the addition of Asante Samuel.
There are also the addition of Mike Nolan as the defensive coordinator and the blitz schemes he brought into the team. The Falcons front seven will put more pressure on the second-year quarterback in 2012, and with Samuel there to force more mistakes, they could increase their interception numbers versus Newton.
Advantage: Falcons' running game vs. Saints' run defense
The Saints have brought in a pair of solid defensive tackles to combat opposing running games, but the Falcons have revamped their offensive line and scheme with the additions of coach Pat Hill and draft picks Lamar Holmes and Peter Konz.
Holmes and Konz will be able to contribute early and help with the running game. Even if they don't win initially, the Falcons will use a lot of six lineman sets and dominate an underwhelming New Orleans defensive line fighting a new scheme.
Advantage: Falcons' pass offense vs. Tampa's pass defense
The Buccaneers added Mark Barron in the draft, and Ronde Barber came back through free agency. Aqib Talib is a mainstay but has trouble with the law. However, that's the best three players the Buccaneers have in their secondary, and they are all average at best.
On the Falcons' side, Roddy White is a top-five receiver in the NFL. Julio Jones is going to be the most explosive receiver in the NFL when he puts it all together and Harry Douglas is a complete player from the slot. The Falcons also have a top-10 quarterback leading the charge in Matt Ryan.
This alone puts them ahead of the Buccaneers and could lead to a blowout when the two teams face off this season.
The Falcons definitely have more than just these advantages over their division rivals, and it wouldn't shock anyone to see the Falcons end up with the division title when all is said and done.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek and runs the NFL draft website ScarDraft.com and host Kvetching Draftniks Radio.