>New Orleans Saints

Last playoff appearance: 2011 (lost in divisional round)

Longest playoff drought: 20 seasons (1967-86)

Other notable drought: The Saints did not win a playoff game until their 34th season, going 0-4 in their first four tries.

The good: They'll win the division if: Drew Brees can keep calm with all the controversy surrounding him from the bounty scandal and act as a coach on the field.

The bad: They'll crash to a 7-9-type season if: New defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can't cut down drastically on the 4,157 passing yards allowed.


>Atlanta Falcons

Last playoff appearance: 2011 (lost in wild card round)

Longest playoff drought: 12 seasons (1966-77)

Other notable drought: Quarterback Matt Ryan has an 0-3 career playoff record.

The good: They'll win a playoff game if: The defense can get off the field (it allowed 44 percent of third downs to be completed last season) and give the ball to the high-flying offense.

The bad: They'll finish .500 if: The transition to new coordinators on offense (Dirk Koetter) and defense (Mike Nolan) has too many growing pains.


>Carolina Panthers

Last playoff appearance: 2008 (lost in divisional round)

Longest playoff drought: 6 seasons (1997-02)

Other notable drought: Not since cornerback Eric Davis in 1996 have the Panthers had a Pro Bowl member in their secondary.

The good: They'll break .500 if: They can come out of September matchups with the Saints, Giants and Falcons with a pair of wins.

The bad: They'll go 6-10 if: Cam Newton comes back down to earth after a ridiculous rookie season and the pass defense doesn't improve.


>Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Last playoff appearance: 2007 (lost in wild card round)

Longest playoff drought: 14 seasons (1983-96)

Other notable drought: It took 32 seasons and 1,865 tries before Micheal Spurlock returned a kickoff for a touchdown on Dec. 16, 2007.

The good: They'll get to six wins if: Quarterback Josh Freeman resembles the player he was two years ago, and receiver Mike Williams (Riverside) reintroduces himself.

The bad: They'll get the first pick if: They show the same willingness to quit under new coach Greg Schiano as they did under Raheem Morris.