With two weeks left to go in the NFL’s regular season, there is still quite a bit to be determined. Three division races are still up for grabs and three of the four wild card spots have yet to be claimed. Today, The Sports Debates is exploring which division is the most surprising. Taking a quick look at the divisions, there is one division that really surprises me, and it is not one of those good surprises. Good surprises will happen to all of us hopefully two days from now. This is a bad surprise… the disappointing play in the NFC South.
First, the one bright spot in the NFC South is the New Orleans Saints. I thought they would make a run at a playoff spot, and I am a big fan of Drew Brees. But never ever did I expect the Saints to be 13-1 at this point in the season. That is certainly a good thing.
Now, on we go to the bad!
The Atlanta Falcons were a sexy preseason pick to make a run in the playoffs, and possibly even win the Super Bowl. Folks, that just is not happening as the Falcons were already eliminated from playoff consideration before this past Sunday. Running back Michael Turner got off to a mediocre start (ask Sports Geek about that) and that led to more pressure on Matt Ryan, who struggled at times. Then, once Turner and Ryan went down with injuries, the Falcons were doomed. That is because the undermanned Falcons defense has been downright horrible at times. I have been a vocal critic of defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder, but in reality, he has very little to work with on defense. I mean, look at this defensive depth chart. Yikes!!!
The Carolina Panthers, last year’s division winner, has been a favorite target of The Sports Debates. First, Sports Geek stuck a fork in the team back in early October. Then, we actually did an entire debate on the future of John Fox. The bottom line is that at 6-8, the Panthers have been a complete disappointment. In actuality, the writing was written on the wall in INK when the Panthers front office had a complete brain fart and decided to give Jake Delhomme a contract extension (which takes the cake of the year’s worst contract in ANY sport… by far!). Not sure what they were smoking then, but I hope they have stopped by now. That constitutes a violation of the NFL’s drug policy! Whether or not this season costs John Fox his job remains to be seen, but either way, it has been a disappointing season.
I think we all saw the Tampa Bay Bucs taking a dive but yikes! This bad? How in the world did they beat Green Bay earlier in the season? I know the Bucs play in the NFL , and, theoretically, every team has a chance to win every week. As Dennis Green would say, “That’s why we took the [expletive deleted] field.” But come on! A record of 2-12? Fairly or unfairly, head coach Raheem Morris is already under fire partly due to the fact that he has essentially fired both his offensive coordinator and his defensive coordinator this season. Wait a minute! He fired his offensive coordinator ten days before the season. Why didn’t we see the signs then? And, are there signs of improvement? Not really!
It is the time of year to celebrate good surprises. But I am lamenting a bad surprise. The NFC South went south this year!