Protecting QBs is NFC South's strong point

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

What's the strongest part of the NFC South? It just might be the offensive lines.

I'd rate all four of them above average, and in Carolina, Atlanta and Tampa Bay that showed up in the running games last year and should do the same this year. New Orleans also has the talent on the offensive line to have a good running game, if the Saints can get some consistency out of their running backs.

But the area where NFC South offensive lines shine most is in pass protection. I know we talked about this at the end of last season, but it's worth revisiting. The Saints were third in the league when it came to protecting Drew Brees, who also had a lot to do with the limited sacks because of his quick release.

Atlanta and Carolina ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the number of sacks allowed and Tampa Bay was right in the middle of the pack.

Here's a look at each NFL team and how many sacks it allowed last year:

San Francisco: 55
Detroit: 52
Cincinnati: 51
Pittsburgh: 49
New England: 48
St. Louis: 45
Minnesota: 43
Jacksonville: 42
Oakland: 39
Buffalo: 38
Washington: 38
Kansas City: 37
Seattle: 36
Green Bay: 34
Baltimore: 33
Houston: 32
Tampa Bay: 32
Dallas: 31
N.Y. Jets: 30
Chicago: 29
Arizona: 28
N.Y. Giants: 28
Miami: 26
San Diego: 25
Cleveland: 24
Philadelphia: 23
Carolina: 20
Atlanta: 17

Indianapolis: 14
New Orleans: 13
Denver: 12
Tennessee: 12