Madden NFL 16 Player Ratings continue with a division-by-division look at team and player ratings. Up next: the NFC South.
What the NFC South lacks in top-level contenders, it makes up for in depth. The division has produced three different division winners in the last four seasons.
CAROLINA PANTHERS (TEAM 80 OVR)
The Panthers won the NFC South (and a playoff game) with a 7-8-1 record last year, their second straight division crown. QB Cam Newton (90 OVR) enters year five with a couple of great targets in TE Greg Olsen (92 OVR) and second-year WR Kelvin Benjamin (86 OVR). HB Jonathan Stewart (84 OVR) is healthy, and the clear starter for the first time in his career.
For the defensive front seven, MLB Luke Kuechly (96 OVR), LOLB Thomas Davis (90 OVR), LE Charles Johnson (89 OVR), and 2nd-year man DT Star Lotulelei (98 OVR) are standouts. CB Charles Tillman (81 OVR) is a quality new addition.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS (TEAM 78 OVR)
The Saints begin training camp with many questions. QB Drew Brees (95 OVR) failed to reach the 5,000-yard mark for the first time since 2010. He’ll be without his favorite target in the departed Jimmy Graham, as TE Josh Hill (78 OVR) will have big shoes to fill. The Saints made a couple solid pickups in C Max Unger (90 OVR) and C.J. Spiller (82 OVR). Second-year WR Brandin Cooks (82 OVR) is a player to watch.
The Saints have several quality defensive players, including Jarius Byrd (91 OVR), RE Cameron Jordan (87 OVR), and new addition CB Brandon Browner (82 OVR). With the release of Junior Galette, impressive rookie Hau’oli Kikaha (66 OVR) will get a chance to start at LOLB.
ATLANTA FALCONS (TEAM 77 OVR)
There’s a new coaching staff in Atlanta, but much of the Falcons’ offense remains the same. QB Matt Ryan (90 OVR) still has quality targets in WRs Julio Jones (94 OVR), Roddy White (84 OVR), and Leonard Hankerson (76 OVR). New offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan can choose between rookie HB Tevin Coleman (74 OVR) or Davonta Freeman (75 OVR) in the backfield.
Rookie first-round pick Vic Beasley Jr. (77 OVR/88 SPD) should get the start at RE. Returning defenders include CB Desmond Trufant (90 OVR) and ROLB Justin Durant (84 OVR).
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS (TEAM 74 OVR)
The Bucs made QB Jameis Winston (81 OVR) the top overall pick in the draft, and he enters his first season with an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver. WRs Mike Evans (87 OVR) and Vincent Jackson (86 OVR) can take over a game through the air. Doug Martin (78 OVR) or Charles Sims (72 OVR) should start at HB. LG Logan Mankins (86 OVR) is a welcome addition to a line that may start rookies RG Ali Marpet (70 OVR) and LT Donovan Smith (67 OVR).
The defense has some bright spots in dominant DT Gerald McCoy (93 OVR), ROLB Lavonte David (91 OVR), and CB Alterraun Verner (87 OVR).