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Friday, October 26, 2012
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 8:

Asante Samuel
Falcons defensive back Asante Samuel will face his former team in the Eagles this week.
Samuel’s homecoming: It’s pretty safe to assume Atlanta cornerback Asante Samuel will go into Philadelphia with a chip on his shoulder. Samuel always carries some swagger, but I’d expect it to be even more obvious against the team he played for from 2008 through last season. He had 23 interceptions in his time with the Eagles, tying him for second in the NFL in that span. But it was reported that Philadelphia coach Andy Reid decided to trade Samuel because he was in "steep decline." That could come back to haunt Reid. Samuel is a guy with a lot of pride and you can bet he’ll be giving everything he has against the Eagles.

Remember the Georgia Dome: This game is in Philadelphia, but the Falcons should just close their eyes and imagine they’re at home and think back to last season. In Week 2 of 2011, the Eagles had a 31-21 fourth-quarter lead on the Falcons, but Atlanta rallied to win. That marked the start of a really bad thing for the Eagles. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Eagles have a league-high seven fourth-quarter blown leads since the start of the 2011 season, and the first one came in Atlanta.

Throw it deep: There’s a reason why New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees has looked better the past three games than in the first three. He’s throwing the deep ball better. In the past three games, Brees has completed 75.6 percent of his throws of 10 yards or more with seven interceptions and just one touchdown. In the first three games, Brees completed just 47.8 percent of throws of 10 yards or more with only two touchdowns and four interceptions.

Manning and the bye: The Saints will be going against New Orleans native Peyton Manning and Denver on Sunday night. Manning’s coming off his bye week and that’s not good news for the Saints. Manning has won his past six starts after a bye week, throwing for 15 touchdowns with three interceptions while his team has averaged 33 points per game.

Can’t beat the good ones: As he approaches the halfway point of his second season, one troubling trend has emerged for Carolina quarterback Cam Newton. In games against teams that have a .500 or better record since the start of last season, Newton and the Panthers are 2-12. And let’s keep in mind that Newton’s seven career wins include six victories in 2011 against the Jaguars, the Buccaneers (twice), the Texans with T.J. Yates, the Redskins with John Beck and the Colts with Curtis Painter.