Today's question: Who will be the NFC South MVP?
Vaughn McClure, Atlanta Falcons: There is no player more dangerous than a healthy Julio Jones. The Falcons receiver makes the tough catches look routine and brushes off double coverage. Jones is extremely confident, with a firm belief that he is the best receiver in the league. He finished third in the NFL with 1,593 receiving yards on 104 catches despite missing one game last season. New Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has a knack for designing plays to get receivers wide open, so it should be interesting to see what Shanahan has in store for Jones. Although the Falcons are intent on having a more balanced offensive attack with an improved running game, they can't neglect the dynamic deep threat that Jones provides.
David Newton, Carolina Panthers: This might appear strange, but the same person I put on the hot seat is my pick to be the division MVP -- Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. Newton is healthier and has more playmakers than at any point in his career. The mismatches Carolina can create with wide receivers Kelvin Benjamin (6-foot-5) and Devin Funchess (6-4), along with tight end Greg Olsen (6-5), will make it tough for teams to load the box to stop the run. That will make it easier for Newton to be a double threat as a passer and runner. Having a complete offseason to improve, in particular his accuracy throwing out of the pocket, can only help. Newton has been on the cusp of greatness the past four seasons. With a better surrounding cast, he'll take that next step.
Mike Triplett, New Orleans Saints: Drew Brees. I was tempted to continue my love-fest for Atlanta receiver Julio Jones in this series of questions, but the MVP is typically a quarterback award. And I still think the Saints' QB is the best in the division. He had a down year by his standards in 2014, with way too many turnovers in big moments (a total of 17 interceptions and three lost fumbles). But he still tied for the NFL lead with 4,952 passing yards and ranked second with a 69.2 completion percentage. I didn't see signs of significant age-related decline for Brees, who turned 36 in January. His biggest problem was trying to force things while often playing from behind because of a woeful defense. He also faced more pressure than usual: His 29 sacks last year and 37 sacks in 2013 are the two highest totals of his career. The Saints traded away two of Brees' top targets, Jimmy Graham and Kenny Stills, so they could invest more resources in the defense and the offensive line. But that could actually wind up helping him where he needs it most.
Pat Yasinskas, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Drew Brees. The New Orleans quarterback is coming off a rocky season and many people are pointing to his age and saying that he's in decline. But that has happened before. In 2010, Brees threw 22 interceptions and the doubters were out in full force. He followed that up by posting career-best numbers in passing yards (5,476) and touchdowns (46) in 2011. Brees seems to excel when people doubt him, and right now a lot of people are doubting him.