When you think about the NFC South, you often think of the history and track record associated with the division. By now, you know (or should know) that no single team has repeated as a division winner since the NFC South began in 2002. Take a look at how each team has fared in recent years.
[table id=9 /]*Division winner
Since 2009, the Saints have been fairly dominant in the NFC South. They’ve sported a 21-9 record to be exact. The team has a 30-18 record since 2006, having only one losing season against NFC South opponents in 2008 (2-4).
As you can see from the table, the rest of the NFC South has struggled. Since 2009, the Falcons (15-15), Panthers (14-16), and Buccaneers (10-20) have not had much success in the division, despite a couple of division titles by the Panthers and Falcons. So, with divisional foes Tampa Bay, Carolina, and Atlanta all having major question marks with their respective teams as we enter the season, it begs the question: ‘Will anyone stop the Saints?’
When you scan around the league media outlets, it’s interesting to read and hear what is being said about the other NFC South teams. FOX Sports is saying that the Buccaneers are power ranked dead last in the NFL. Pro Football Focus had the Falcons power ranked at 30th, though the ‘Rise Up Nation’ claims complete denial of this. With the Panthers, you can’t find any type of analysis on the team that doesn’t center around their uncertainties at the wide receiver position.
The Saints are heavily favored to win the division this season. We’ve never had a perfect division sweep in the NFC South, and I wrote in a previous article that the Saints would actually do this this year. Of course, let me echo that claim weighs heavily on the Week 16 showdown against the Bucs in Tampa.
So, does this mean that the rest of the teams will just rollover and play dead? Hardly. Here’s a few interesting matchup facts you might not have known about the NFC South foes against the Saints:
Carolina has had the most success against New Orleans. They sport a 3-1 record against the Saints since 2012. Each of those losses have been decided by a single possession: 8, 6, and 4 points.
Against Atlanta, the last four matchups have been decided by 10 points or less. The games have come down to the final possession.
Despite winning the past five matchups against the Bucs, playing in Tampa is tough. The last three matchups in Raymond James Stadium have been decided by 2, 7, and 6 points.
The major lesson from today is that the other teams in the NFC South will not let New Orleans steamroll the division. In fact, having so many question marks on respective teams can pose a greater threat when it comes to film studies and game planning. Each NFC South matchup reminds me of SEC college football. When teams meet on game day, you can always expect a hard-fought game, a lot of emotions attached, and some great football. I still believe and would bet that the Saints will win the division this year, but I would be completely naive if I didn’t say it won’t come so easily like most think.