As I sat in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Monday morning, I looked at the NFL standings and had a horrible thought.
“When did I start covering the NFC West?’’ I said to myself.
You know, the division where you don’t have to be a winner to be a division champion and get into the playoffs? Yea, I know, Atlanta coach Mike Smith reminded the media like 17 times Sunday that "it's only one week’’ and he might be right. But it’s a little discomforting to look at the standings and see all four NFC South teams winless -- even if it’s after one week.
I came into the season thinking the NFC South might be the best division in football. That still could end up being the case, but the Saints, Falcons, Panthers and Buccaneers are going to have to catch up to the rest of the league. The NFC South is the only division not to produce a single win.
After I got over the initial shock of the standings, I tried to recall if the NFC South ever has experienced a week like this. We’re now in our fourth season of the NFL Blog Network and I can’t remember it happening in that time.
That’s mainly because it hasn’t – at least not in the time there’s been an NFC South blog. For confirmation and context, I reached out to ESPN Stats & Information and got a hold of Mark Malzewski, who worked in the Bucs’ media-relations department before there was an NFC South and asked how many times this has happened since the NFC South came into existence in 2002.
Mark got on the case just as I was boarding my flight. When I landed in Tampa, I had the answer. You’ve got to go deep into NFC South history to find a week where all four teams have lost.
Before this past week, it had only happened twice. It happened in Week 16 in 2007 and Week 15 in 2006.
If it happens again, I’ll have to check to see if NFC West colleague Mike Sando needs a roommate. In the meantime, let’s just all keep chanting Smith’s words – “It’s only one week’’.