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

Sunday, January 6, 2013
Around the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas

Let's take a look at the Sunday headlines throughout the division:

ATLANTA FALCONS

With Minnesota losing to Green Bay on Saturday night, the Falcons now have to wait until Sunday afternoon to see who they’ll play in the divisional round. It will be the winner of the game between the Redskins and Seahawks. Either way, the Falcons will face a rookie quarterback -- Washington’s Robert Griffin III or Seattle’s Russell Wilson.

The Falcons continue to get healthier. Safety William Moore, who missed the final four games of the regular season with a hamstring injury, returned to practice Saturday.

CAROLINA PANTHERS

Former Carolina quarterback Jeff Lewis died at 39. I’m very saddened by this. I covered Lewis during his days in Carolina. Although his career didn’t turn out the way Lewis or the Panthers would have liked, he always was a nice guy.

Tom Sorensen writes that Carolina’s yet-to-be-hired general manager, not owner Jerry Richardson, should have made the decision on coach Ron Rivera’s future. I’ll respectfully disagree with my friend and former co-worker on that. It’s Richardson’s team and whoever ends up as the general manager will get the job only after convincing the owner he can work well with Rivera.

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS

Former New Orleans offensive coordinator Doug Marrone reportedly will become the new head coach in Buffalo. New Orleans fans may want to keep an eye on this situation because coaches frequently reach into their past when filling out staffs and Marrone spent three years with the Saints and maintained good relationships within the organization.

Although there’s been a report that there’s no chance of suspended coach Sean Payton being reinstated before the Super Bowl, a league spokesman said no timeline has been set.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS

Roy Cummings writes that the best way for the Bucs to bring in competition for quarterback Josh Freeman might be through the draft. The free-agent class isn’t very attractive at this point. But there should be some decent prospects in the middle rounds of the draft. The Bucs aren’t looking to replace Freeman immediately and still hope he can take the next step. But they need to get an alternative in place if they decide not to re-sign Freeman beyond 2013.

Ira Kaufman gives his defensive rookie of the year award to Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly, which no doubt will rile up the Tampa Bay faithful, who think Lavonte David deserves that honor.