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Friday, November 25, 2011
Final Word: NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 12:

Cam newton
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton has excelled under pressure this season.
Newton’s better under pressure. Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton has been far better this season when opposing teams have blitzed. When opponents have sent five or more pass-rushers, Newton has averaged 8.1 yards per attempt with seven touchdowns and three interceptions. But when opponents have sent four or fewer pass-rushers, Newton has averaged 7.9 yards per attempt with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Sweet Dome Atlanta. The home game with the Vikings will mark the seventh straight game the Falcons have played in a dome. That could reach eight next week when the Falcons travel to Houston, where Reliant Stadium has a retractable roof that probably will be closed. The Falcons have only one definite outdoor game left on their schedule. That comes in Week 14 when Atlanta travels to Carolina.

Defensive woes. The Bucs were 3-1 after four games, but now are 4-6 and have lost four straight. They haven’t lost five straight since 2009. You can blame most of Tampa Bay’s problems on the defense. Since Week 5, it has been particularly bad. In that span, the Bucs have allowed an average of 31.8 points per game. Only Indianapolis (32.0 points per game) has been worse.

Chasing 2009. Any time you talk about the Saints, the 2009 season is the ultimate measuring stick. That’s the season in which New Orleans won its only Super Bowl. In one regard, this year’s team is keeping pace with the 2009 squad. The Saints are 4-0 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season. If they win against the Giants on Monday night, it will mark only the second time in history the team has started 5-0 at home. The other time, of course, was in 2009.

Playing to the camera. The Saints have won five straight Monday night games. They’ve played the Giants twice on Monday night and lost both. But those losses came before quarterback Drew Brees and coach Sean Payton arrived in 2006. Since then, the Saints are 7-2 on Monday night.