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Friday, September 18, 2009
NFC South by the numbers

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


At the risk of sounding like Cliff Clavin (“Well, actually, Norm.’’), I’m going to hit you with a whole bunch of stuff from ESPN Stats & Information about this week’s games.

It’s never too early to start talking playoffs and fans of the Saints and Falcons should note that since 1990, 64.6 of the teams that have started 2-0 have gone on to the playoffs. For Carolina and Tampa Bay fans, remember this, only 13.8 percent of the teams that have started 0-2 have made the playoffs.

Sunday’s game between Tampa Bay in Buffalo will be the ninth meeting of these two franchises. But it’s the first one in Buffalo.

Note to John Fox on the quarterback situation: there might be a way around Jake Delhomme. Just give the ball to your running backs. If you include the playoffs last season, the Panthers are 11-2 in games in which at least one of the running back duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart carries at least 15 times. The Panthers are 1-4 in which neither of them gets 15 carries.

Another note to Fox: It might be nice to establish the run before trying some play-action passing. As good as Atlanta’s defense looked last week, Miami quarterback Chad Pennington completed six of eight play-action passes. Then again, Carolina’s play action hasn’t produced much in the last two games. If you take last week’s opener against Philadelphia and last season’s playoff loss to Arizona, Delhomme has completed seven of 17 play-action passes for 79 yards.

Six of Delhomme’s nine interceptions in those two games have been intended for Steve Smith.