Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Saints Nation: The state of the NFC South

7 weeks into the season, the NFC South Standings look like this:

Saints 6-0 (3-0 in conference, 0-0 in division)
Falcons 4-2 (3-1 in conference, 1-0 in division)
Panthers 2-4 (2-3 in conference, 1-1 in division)
Buccaneers 0-7 (0-5 in conference, 0-1 in division)

While the Saints are currently in the driver's seat with a two game lead on the Falcons, the 6-0 record is misleading because they've yet to play an NFC South opponent (crucial games to have in winning the division) and half of their wins have come against AFC opponents. While wins are all important, the AFC victories carry slightly less significance because they don't factor in tie breaking scenarios for seeding. The game Monday night is a big one for the standings. If the Saints win, they'll go up 3 games on the Falcons with a tie breaking advantage and 9 games to go. Conversely, they lose and they're only 1 game up with 9 to go, and down in the tie breaking scenario. Most people don't realize how up to the Saints' heels the Falcons have been this season. They haven't been as good or as perfect as the Saints, but they've been pretty close. I think it's safe to assume that the Bucs' season is completely over, and the Saints are fortunate to still have two upcoming games against them. The Panthers are quickly sinking, too, but their personnel and style of play always gives the Saints trouble; so the upcoming 2 games against them are less comforting. As for Atlanta, the upcoming 2 games (including Monday Night) are scary. To assume those two will be anything less than a dogfight would be imprudent. So while the Saints are sitting pretty good, things are far from secured and there's a long way to go. By no means have they established breathing room to separate themselves from Atlanta, but it's something they can fix on Monday.