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Friday, October 16, 2009
Final Word: NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com


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

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas


Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 6:

 
 Derick Hingle/Icon SMI
 Jermon Bushrod has filled in admirably for Pro Bowler Jammal Brown, who's out for the season.
The dome will be Super. I don’t do game predictions, but I will admit I like the Saints’ chances against the Giants. That’s not just because I think the Saints have a great offense and a very good defense. It’s largely because I think the home field is going to be a big advantage. It hasn’t always been the case, but, when the Saints are playing well, the Superdome can be an incredible place. The Saints are playing very well and New Orleans is very excited. When the atmosphere and circumstances are like this, the Superdome is easily the toughest venue in the NFC South.

A problem spot? The one subtle thing that’s amazed me about the Saints is how well they’ve been able to move on without injured left tackle Jammal Brown. The guy’s a Pro Bowler and you’re supposed to miss a couple beats when you’re without a Pro Bowl left tackle. The Saints haven’t and that’s a tribute to Jermon Bushrod, Zach Strief, the coaching staff and Drew Brees. But I worry a bit that the Giants have the kind of pass rush that might be able to exploit Bushrod or Strief.

By the way, the Falcons play this week, too. In any other week, the game between the Falcons and Bears would get top billing. But with the undefeated Saints and Giants playing, this game, understandably, has taken a backseat. But let’s not sell this one short. It’s a matchup of two 3-1 teams and there’s history involved. Last year, Matt Ryan pulled off a miracle to beat the Bears and both teams remember that very well. By the time this game starts, the Giants and Saints will be done. No matter how that turns out, the Falcons are going to have plenty of motivation. They’re either going to be playing for a piece of first place in the NFC South or trying to stay within striking distance of the Saints.

“The Burner’’ is fine. I’ve been asked by every fantasy-football player I know (and some I don’t know) about Atlanta running back Michael Turner this week. He was seen limping at the end of last week’s game in San Francisco and that’s got all the people who worry about Turner’s yards and touchdowns in a frenzy. Relax, Turner hasn’t been on Atlanta’s injury report and has been practicing all week. Start him, if you've got him.

Battle of attrition. You can make a pretty strong case that Tampa Bay and Carolina have had the NFC South’s most heated rivalry since the division came into existence. Well, just about everything can change over time and this game has absolutely no sizzle. You want a storyline for this matchup? How about: We’re going to find out which team has more problems.