Extra Points
News and commentary from around the Web

Rob Weintraub's 2019 All-NFC South Team

New Orleans Saints WR Michael Thomas
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Nearly forty percent of every team's schedule is made up of division games. Every coach and player talks about the importance of winning games against division foes. Schemes and personnel are very often tailored to matching up with division opponents. Yet when it comes to naming the best players at season's end, we never classify them by division. Where are the All-Division teams? This has always mystified me. Colleges name All-Conference teams, why not do likewise for the professional ranks?

Well rest easy, I've done it for you. Today we head below the Mason-Dixon Line to concentrate on the NFC South. Naturally, this being Football Outsiders, our stats are used to justify selections whenever necessary.

OFFENSE

QB: Drew Brees, NO

The missed time may have helped Brees be the league's No. 1 passer by DVOA, but it likely cost him the title in our cumulative stat, DYAR, where he still finished second despite playing five fewer games than Dak Prescott.

RB: Christian McCaffrey, CAR
RB: Alvin Kamara, NO

CMC piled up an insane 385 DYAR as a receiver, far more than his 273 rushing DYAR, which oh by the way trailed only Zeke Elliott in the NFL. Likewise, it was the passing game that pushed Kamara past his teammate, Latavius Murray, who actually put up a higher DYAR/DVOA in rushing. But Kamara was the far superior dual threat.

WR: Michael Thomas, NO
WR: Chris Godwin, TB
WR: Calvin Ridley, ATL
TE: Jared Cook, NO

A frighteningly good division for receivers -- five of the top seven wideouts by DYAR plied their trade in the NFC South! Godwin and Ridley (who were also one-two in DVOA) tipped out their more renowned (not to mention far higher paid) teammates Mike Evans and Julio Jones, while Thomas, unsurprisingly, led the league in DYAR. Cook led all tight ends in DVOA, and was second in DYAR to Darren Waller.

OT: Ryan Ramczyk, NO
OT: Terron Armstead, NO
OG: Ali Marpet, TB
OG: Larry Worford, NO
C: Ryan Jensen, TB

Center was a tight battle between Jensen, Alex Mack, and Erik McCoy. Otherwise, pretty straightforward selections.

DEFENSE

DE: Cam Jordan, NO
DE: Ndamukong Suh, TB
DT: Grady Jarrett, ATL
DT: Malcom Brown, NO

Brown edges out Vita Vea for the second tackle spot alongside Jarrett, with Suh kicking outside in this scenario.

OLB: Shaq Barrett, TB
OLB: Demario Davis, NO
ILB: Luke Kuechly, CAR
ILB: Lavonte David, TB

Barrett went from free agent afterthought to league leader in sacks, though in overall play Davis might have had the better season. Kuechly makes his final All-Division team in his last season as a pro. Tampa Bay's Devin White seems poised to take his place as NFC South mid-level dominator, but his rookie rawness allowed his teammate David to slip into the other linebacker spot on this team.

CB: Marshon Lattimore, NO
CB: Desmond Trufant, ATL
Slot CB: Carlton Davis, TB
S: Marcus Williams, NO
S: Ricardo Allen, ATL

Finding any decent secondary play in this division is difficult … which, given the high level of passing offenses they all face six games a season, perhaps isn't surprising. Trufant only played nine games but at least he played decently in them, with four picks. Want to sub in any other corner? I'm all ears.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: Will Lutz, NO
P: Thomas Morstead, NO
RET: Deonte Harris, NO

A hidden reason the Saints cruised to the division title was the excellence of their special teams (third overall) joined by the crappiness of the others in the NFC South (Atlanta was 27th, Tampa Bay 28th, Carolina 31st).

Comments

8 comments, Last at 20 Feb 2020, 4:02pm

1 Ridley and Jones had…

Ridley and Jones had essentially the same DYAR. But it's much easier being efficient when you have a WR1 across from you absorbing all the double teams.

I would have taken Julio. He makes everyone else's job easier in a way Ridley does not.

2 The NFC South seems to be…

The NFC South seems to be one of the strongest division teams, with a powerful offense and some decent defense

4 Malcom Brown

Note the unusual spelling of his first name.

8 The secondaries are so bad

Not even Jameis Winston could help. In the 6 games against divisional opponents, he threw 13 picks. Well, in 4 games; in the first Carolina and NO games, he didn't throw one. Made up for lost time, though.