How I See It: NFC South Stock Watch

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
11:15
AM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

FALLING

1. Roddy White, Falcons wide receiver. Keep in mind, the stock price on White was at an all-time high a few weeks ago. It hasn't fallen through the floor and probably isn't going to. But there has been a minor dip. White was held to five catches for 49 yards Sunday and he hasn't had a touchdown catch in the past two games. White was being mentioned as a candidate for Most Valuable Player a few weeks ago. That's not going to happen unless his numbers jump back up the rest of the way.

2. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers quarterback. Much like White, this is not an all-out alert to sell Freeman's stock. The price is still pretty high. But Sunday's loss in Baltimore was a reminder that Freeman is not a finished product. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes, although that happened against a very good defense. Freeman can carry the Bucs against average or below average teams. But he needs some help to really shine against good teams.

3. Aqib Talib, Buccaneers cornerback. No matter how bad a call was by the officials, you don't go chasing them down after a game to argue the point. If you're a cornerback, you have to have a short memory and, when things go wrong, you have to use that to motivate you in a positive way.

RISING

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
Todd Kirkland/Icon SMIFalcons quarterback Matt Ryan has lead his team to five straight wins.
1. Matt Ryan, Falcons quarterback. His numbers are not going to be like Peyton Manning's because the Falcons never will throw the ball around like the Colts. But Ryan has reached another level this season. He has led the Falcons to five straight wins and they haven't had a turnover in four games. Ryan's game-winning drive against the Packers was a model of efficiency.

2. Drew Brees, Saints quarterback. The offensive "slump'' the Saints and Brees were in early in the season is over. The Saints have scored 30 or more points in their past three games, all victories. Brees' final drive against Dallas on Thanksgiving was reminiscent of the quarterback who won the Super Bowl last season.

3. Malcolm Jenkins, Saints safety. The fumble he caused by Dallas receiver Roy Williams in the final minutes of the Thanksgiving game is going to be remembered as one of the biggest plays of the season. Only a second-year pro in his first year of playing safety, Jenkins is playing with uncommon intangibles. Veteran Darren Sharper is still hanging around, but Jenkins is firmly entrenched as the starter at free safety for the long term.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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