Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC South [Print without images]

Friday, November 2, 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 9:

Surprising stat: The Falcons, who have been known for being great in the Georgia Dome for most of the Mike Smith/Matt Ryan era, haven’t been very dominant at home this season. They’ve won their three home games by a combined 11 points. On the road, Atlanta has outscored opponents by 15 points per game.

Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan is completing 78.8 percent of his passes in the final two minutes of each half.
Two-minute master: Here’s another sign that Ryan has taken a step into -- or near -- elite status. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he has completed 78.8 percent of his passes in the final two minutes of the half (we’re talking both halves) this season. That’s the best percentage in the NFL. In his first four seasons, Ryan completed only 49.8 percent of his throws in those situations.

Historically bad: A lot of people thought the Panthers might make history this season. They are, but it’s for all the wrong reasons. The Panthers have lost five straight games, which gives them the longest active losing streak in the NFL. They're 1-6, and another loss would drop them to 1-7 for the fifth time in their history. Sad part is, the Panthers didn’t even hit 1-7 in their expansion year. But they started 1-7 in 2010, 2004, 2001 and 1998.

Another O-line shuffle: With All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks lost to a season-ending injury, the Bucs are going to have to make yet another change to their offensive line. That could slow rookie running back Doug Martin, who has been on a roll lately. Martin has averaged 4.5 yards when running to his left and 4.4 yards up the middle, but is gaining only 3.2 yards per carry when running to his right. Those numbers could fall, because whichever backup lineman the Bucs insert at left guard is likely to be a big drop-off from Nicks.

A positive note on the Saints: These have been tough to come up with this season. But this bodes well for the Saints on Monday night against the Eagles: The Saints have won seven straight “Monday Night Football’’ games. That’s the longest active streak in the NFL. The Saints also have won 11 straight games played in the month of November.