NFL Midterms- NFC South

The NFC South is up next in the round of NFL Midterms, and the New Orleans Saints are the class of not just the division, but the whole NFC, and possibly the NFL as a whole. If they keep up the play they have through the first half of the season, they will definitely be holding up the Lombardi Trophy in Miami in February. The Atlanta Falcons experience their first consecutive losses under head coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan, but they are still in the drivers seat for one of the wild card spots. The Carolina Panthers have been one of the major disappointments of 2009, the window of the playoffs is closing quickly and the schedule is not an easy one. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a long season ahead of them, but they might have realized that the future is now with Josh Freeman at the helm in the QB spot.

New Orleans Saints (8-0)- Grade: A+; The Saints have steamrolled their opponents throughout the first half of the season, and for the years that Drew Brees and Sean Payton have been here with an explosive offense and no defense, the Saints not only have one of the best defense in the NFL and veteran Darren Sharper who has an NFL-leading seven interceptions, they also have a strong running game with Pierre Thomas, Mike Bell, and Reggie Bush, a part of the offense that has been stagnant since the departure of Deuce McAllister. This team is complete now and if they do not win the NFC this season, they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Atlanta Falcons (5-3)- Grade: B+; The Falcons have played well all season long. Tony Gonzalez has been a great addition to this team along with the fact that Michael Turner is back to the bruising runner that he was a year ago, and with Roddy White having another great year as well. Although they were heavy favorites to win the South and potentially go to the Super Bowl, nobody expected the Saints to go on the run that they are currently going. This team can still make noise in the playoffs, but they have to maintain intensity on defense. John Abraham is the leader of the defense, but they need a lot more than him, as he can do but only so much. If someone can stand out in the second half, it will be better for the Falcons.

Carolina Panthers (3-5)- Grade: C-; The Panthers have been one of the major disappointments of 2009. They returned 21 of their 22 starters, but it was a disasterous first few games for quarterback Jake Delhomme. Delhomme still leads the NFL with 13 interceptions, despite not throwing interceptions in the past two games. The struggles of Delhomme have led to little production from Steve Smith, and the rest of the wide receivers have not done much of anything as well. The running game has picked up in the past few games, and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have done well. The defense is among the tops of the NFL, but Delhomme needs a real strong second half to keep this team’s playoff hopes alive. Beating Atlanta on Sunday is a major step in that direction.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-7)- Grade: F; The Buccaneers already had the idea that this season would be one long one. With a complete overhaul of the whole team, coaches, players, etc., this team knows the tough times are ahead. However giving their first round pick Josh Freeman an opportunity was one of the best things this team could do. Freeman was poised, and he had his moments where he looked like a NFL QB, others when he looked like a rookie. If he plays like this on a consistent basis from now and beyond, the Buccaneers will be back.

Next on deck: The NFC East

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