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Thursday, December 22, 2011
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Let's take a look at the top Thursday morning headlines from around the NFC South.

Atlanta rookie receiver Julio Jones could pose more of a threat than he did in the first meeting with the Saints. Jones had to leave that game with a hamstring injury. The beauty of Jones in Atlanta’s offense is that, when he’s on the field, he makes everyone else on the offense more dangerous.

In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about the Mercedes-Benz Superdome providing a huge home-field advantage for the Saints. But that’s kind of inflated. The Saints have never won more than six home games in a season. They have a chance to get to seven Monday night against the Falcons. If they do that, they’ll have a chance to run the table when they host Carolina in the season finale.

In his weekly film study, Jeff Duncan says the Saints’ defense was just as impressive as the offense in the victory against Minnesota. I agree. The New Orleans defense has been noticeably better in recent weeks. But the same can be said for Atlanta’s defense.

D. Orlando Ledbetter points out the Falcons stopped the running game in the previous game with the Saints. That was nice, but he also points out the Falcons did not sack Drew Brees and barely pressured the quarterback. Maybe that’s why the Saints won the first meeting.

There’s been a lot of talk about Cam Newton showing his emotions through body language whenever things go wrong for Carolina. But the rookie quarterback said he’s working on keeping those in check after getting lectured by offensive tackle Jordan Gross and center Ryan Kalil.

The Buccaneers are hoping adversity makes them stronger. So far, that formula hasn’t seemed to work.

Tampa Bay receiver Mike Williams says the Bucs need to grow up. Again, there hasn’t been a lot of evidence that process has started.