Panthers drag Falcons out of top spot

December, 14, 2010
12/14/10
2:00
PM ET
Largely due to the fact that you are NFC South fans and this is the NFC South blog, it seems like we often talk about the strength of the NFC South. Two teams already have double-digit wins and there is a chance three could end up in that territory and in the postseason.

It has been a banner year because of the way the Falcons, Saints and Buccaneers have played. However, sadly, it is time to talk about the weakness of the NFC South. That, of course, is the Carolina Panthers.

If Johnny Carson were still on late-night television, he could say, “You know, the Carolina Panthers are so bad ..." the crowd would inquire exactly how bad and the punch line that isn’t really funny would follow.

The Panthers are so bad that they cost the Atlanta Falcons the No. 1 spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings. Yep, Atlanta had held the spot for four straight weeks, has won seven straight games and the Falcons went up to Charlotte on Sunday and defeated the Panthers 31-10.

For their efforts, the Falcons got dropped to No. 2 in the rankings. In a ballot where the four voters were unanimous in their votes for the top two, the New England Patriots jumped to No. 1 and the Falcons slipped, despite not doing anything to deserve to slip.

Atlanta’s only crime was playing the Panthers. I’m not even going to rip on the voters because they might have a point. New England’s been playing some great football recently. This isn’t the college voting system, and I’d like to think the voters simply went with the team they believe is playing best the best football in the league right now. They might have it right, and I admit I probably would say the Patriots are that team right now.

But, anyway, Power Rankings are what they are -- something to talk about. Despite Atlanta’s fall, the NFC South has two teams in the top four with New Orleans jumping up to No. 4 after winning its sixth straight game.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers stayed at No. 13, but I’ve got to give some praise to voter James Walker. He has the Bucs at No. 11. There will be 12 teams in the playoffs. With home games coming against Detroit and Seattle, I think Walker’s ahead of the curve in including the Bucs in the top 12.

Finally, there are the Panthers. They’re No. 32 for the fourth straight week. I guess the only thing I'm wondering is why it took voters so long to realize how bad the Panthers are.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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