NFL2014 Crystal Schnoz Predictions – NFC South

3 notes before we get to the predictions:

1. NFL predictions are so hard to nail because of injuries, parity, and random bounces of the ball. That’s why this is so fun.

2. FO = Football Outsiders. I reference them and their phenomenal stats a lot. Their almanac is fantastic, go buy it.

3. Share your predictions in the comments so we can come back in January and marvel at how much smarter I am than you.


#1 – New Orleans Saints

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) The Saints were 1 of only 3 teams to finish with a Top 10 Offense AND Defense in 2013 per FO’s DVOA rating. (Other teams were the Panthers and Seahawks.)

2) Yes, their offense is great, but did you know that no defense was better in 2013 at forcing opposing offenses to go 3-and-out. They led the league by doing that on 29.4% of opposing drives.

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) RG Jahri Evans is known around the locker room as the guy who wastes way too much toilet paper. His frequent toilet clogs in 2013 led two members of the New Orleans Maintenance crew to resign and another one to be admitted to a psych ward.

2) Head Coach Sean Payton wears a visor because his miniature imaginary friend, Dookie Beignet, likes to watch the games while sitting on the comfortable cushion of Sean’s hair.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a red starburst fruit chew

Celebrity Fans: Ellen Degeneres, Harry Connick Jr., Robin Roberts

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: Iceland’s Bardarbunga’s volcano unleashes lava over the entire globe, including New Orleans, and they all die.

Schnoz Prediction: 13-3

Why:  What we have right here, in our opinion, is the best team in the league. We don’t need to tell you how good the offense is, so we won’t, but in case you’re wondering, we think the loss of Darrin Sproles will be covered by the addition of Brandin Cooks and a resurgent Mark Ingram. On the other side of the ball they’ve added Jairus Byrd and have a healthy Kenny Vaccaro returning to the field. A second year under Rob Ryan’s 3-4 and the easiest schedule in their division smells like a #1 seed in the NFC to us.

#2 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) The Bucs played the toughest schedule in the league in 2013. They also, by all accounts, might have had the worst coach in the league in Greg Schiano.

2) Brand New Coaching Regime Alert! Lovie Smith is now leading the way with Jeff Tedford and Leslie Frazer running the offense and defense, respectively. They’ve gone from a barking, insane dictator to a proven, steady leader…it’s going to mean a lot.

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) Rookie WR Mike Evans writes dirty limericks on public bathroom stalls every chance he gets.

2) The Buccaneers grounds crew have a tradition of urinating on the field in the North End Zone the night before each game.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a freshly laundered towel

Celebrity Fans: Dick Vitale, Dick Vitale’s wife, and Dick Vitale’s Cocaine Dealer

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: The bottom half of Florida snaps off and breaks away from the rest of the United States, where it is sucked into a “Blue Hole”, which is what happens when a Black Hole forms in the ocean. They all die.

Schnoz Prediction: 9-7

Why:  We might be high on this team because we were high on them last year as well (yes, we threw away $10 at 60:1 odds on the Bucs winning the SB when we were in Vegas last August). It’s hard to argue, however, that the talent to post a winning record isn’t there. Josh McCown as a 16-game starter is a question mark, but he’s got fast (Doug Martin) and tall (Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson, Austin Sefarian-Jenkins) weapons all around him. If the offensive line can be average – and adding Logan Mankins from the Patriots makes this possible – McCown could be not terrible. On defense, Gerald McCoy and Lavonte David might be the best Tackle/Linebacker combo in the league. If the secondary can hold it’s own, a winning record might be in play. There are some unproven commodities on this team, but Lovie Smith isn’t one of them. Look for his leadership to turn this pirate ship around.

#3 – Atlanta Falcons

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) Along with the Raiders, the Falcons are playing a home game in the U.K. this year. (Week 8 against Detroit.) Yeah that’s right. Two London games this year! We are so close to the London Jaguars being a thing, you can almost taste it.

2) The Falcons defense was a Bottom 5 unit in 2013. (FO had them ranked 29th.)

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) Tony Gonzalez would have played for Atlanta this year, but he made a bet with a buddy last September that he could eat 95% of the niblets off an ear of corn in 15 seconds or he would retire from the game following the season. After a careful count it was determined he only ate 87% of the niblets, and being a man of his word, he hung up his cleats after Week 17.

2) They call him Matty Ice because his feces come out frozen.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a scale

Celebrity Fans: Usher, Jeff Foxworthy, Ty Pennington

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: A quarter inch of snow falls in Atlanta before their Week 15 game against the Steelers and everyone in Atlanta dies.

Schnoz Prediction: 6-10

Why:  We’re just not sold on this team. The offense is great, yes, but injuries to two offensive lineman already this year aren’t going to help the cause. Injuries have hurt the defense as well, as they lost linebacker Sean Witherspoon in minicamps to a ruptured achilles. Their front seven is weak against the pass and their secondary is among the worst in the league, which explains why FO rated them the worst defense against the pass last year. They were also ranked 30th in tackling, which is kind of an important part of playing defense. This team feels like a Dallas Cowboys knockoff: good offense, bad defense, and a lousy bet to make the playoffs in a strong NFC.

#4 – Carolina Panthers

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) The Panthers were 1 of only 3 teams to finish with a Top 10 Offense AND Defense in 2013 per FO’s DVOA rating. (Other teams were the Saints and Seahawks.)

2) The Panthers finished 12-4 last year and decided to use that momentum to…rebuild? Really?

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) Many think Cam Newton’s TD celebration is him mimicking Superman ripping open a dress shirt to reveal a Superman costume. False. What he’s actually doing is a slow-motion reenactment of opening a bag of Sun Chips. He loves Sun Chips.

2) FB Mike Tolbert practices his lead blocking skills by yelling “Fire!” in crowded rooms and then timing himself to see how fast he can escape the ensuing melee.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: spoiled milk

Celebrity Fans: Brooklyn Decker, Stephen Colbert, Marg Helgenberger

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: Before kickoff of their Week 2 home opener the team rides out on panthers. Literally, all 53 guys saddled up on the backs of large cats…even those big offensive lineman. It does not end well. They all die.

Schnoz Prediction: 5-11

Why:  Because you gotta pick one team to go from first to worst, right? Cam is entering the season banged up with a paltry receiving core and the perpetual pupu platter of Jonny Stewart and DeAngelo Williams in the backfield. The defense is still strong, but they lost four of their top five defensive backs from last year from the roster! How much do you expect Kuechly and Hardy to do? Also, congratulations on finishing in first place last year, as a reward you get to play the Seahawks and Eagles in your two “extra” games. In a loaded NFC someone’s got to have a disappointing season…our vote is Carolina.

Alright everyone, chime in with your thoughts on the NFC South.

What do you agree with and where am I dead wrong?


AFC: East | North | South | West

NFC: East | North | South | West | The Playoffs