Let's take a quick look at the headlines from around the division:
Jeff Schultz writes that the Falcons have flaws, but points out every NFL team does. That’s very true. It may seem like the world is picking the Falcons apart right now. But the fact is they’re 8-1 and some of their flaws are fixable. This team still is in very good shape.
Retired running back LaDainian Tomlinson came to the defense of Michael Turner, saying he needs more carries to get into a rhythm. I get the point, but the Falcons started making it very clear back in the offseason that Turner’s carries would be limited. Also, keep in mind that Tomlinson and Turner were teammates in San Diego.
Although Cam Newton has struggled at times, members of Tampa Bay’s defense said they’re still taking the challenge of facing the quarterback Sunday very seriously because he has the ability to make big plays at any time.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Although he is currently serving a suspension and isn’t supposed to have contact with anyone from the Saints, Sean Payton is allowed to negotiate a new contract with the team, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. Payton’s contract extension, which was agreed to over a year ago, was voided because it contained language that said he could get out of the deal if general manager Mickey Loomis left the Saints. The NFL didn’t want to set a precedent in which a coach’s job status was tied to that of someone else in the organization.
With a lot of other quarterbacks injured around the league, Drew Brees said he’s been lucky to stay healthy throughout his time with the Saints. There might be some luck involved, but I think Brees also has been helped by a good offensive line and a scheme that doesn’t have him sitting in the pocket for long periods of time.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Pro Bowl guards Carl Nicks and Davin Joseph already are out with season-ending injuries, but the Bucs may have to re-shuffle their offensive line again. Jamon Meredith, who has been starting at right guard, is dealing with an ankle injury. If he can’t play at Carolina on Sunday, the Bucs would have to consider several alternatives, including starting Roger Allen or moving backup tackle Jeremy Trueblood to guard.