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Saints still NFC South’s best, but can Bucs displace Falcons as next in line?

By Editorial Staff
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We’re only a year and a half removed from the New Orleans Saints winning the Super Bowl, yet attention is not so slowly fading away from one of the league’s premier teams. What have you done for me lately? The sad, truthful answer for the Saints is an embarrassing loss to the advantageous Seattle Seahawks in last season’s wild card playoffs.

Even still, the Saints remain one of the favorites to win Super Bowl XLVI. Needless to say, if the Saints hope to return to the Super Bowl they’ll need to top the NFC South, besting other conceivable Super Bowl hopefuls such as the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Last year, the best in the south were the Falcons who, along with the Saints, barely edged out the 10-win Bucs from the playoffs. Despite a beat
down at the hands of the Packers in their own house, the Falcons are viewed by many as the top challenger to the Saints for this year’s division title once again.

But those very same Buccaneers who were robbed of a playoff spot last year might have something to say about being the third wheel for a second year in a row. Bucs fans don’t have to look any farther than last year’s results against the NFC South for proof that they can overtake
the Falcons for second best in 2011, presuming New Orleans returns to 2009 form.

Tampa Bay’s less than impressive 3-3 division record doesn’t offer much evidence upon first glance, with two of the three victories coming from lowly Carolina and one over a mostly 2nd-string New Orleans squad.

However, the two contests against the Falcons were both memorable and promising going forward. A late goal-line stand by Atlanta
avoided an early-season upset in the Georgia Dome, followed by a Week 13 comeback led by an Eric Weems kickoff return touchdown in Tampa Bay.