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NFC South teams face brutal 2009 schedules

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

The conclusion of the Super Bowl means all we have to look forward to is next season. On the surface, 2009 is not going to be an easy season for the NFC South.

All four teams rank in the top eight when it comes to schedule difficulty. Based on the 2008 records of opponents, Carolina has the league's second-hardest schedule. Atlanta ranks fourth, Tampa Bay fifth and New Orleans eighth.

But there may be a silver lining to all this. At this time last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the toughest schedule based on this system. They went out and won the Super Bowl.

Here's a look at the difficulty of every team's schedule for 2009: