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Friday, November 20, 2009
Final Word: NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

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

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 11:

Place in history. Another week, a shot at another milestone for the Saints, although they’ll need some help from the Colts on this one. If the Saints beat the Bucs and the Colts beat the Ravens, it would be only the third time in NFL history that two teams have started 10-0. The last time it happened was 1990, when the Giants and 49ers did it. The only other time it happened was 1934, when the Bears and Lions each started 10-0. Fitting footnote to that one: The Lions then lost their final three games and didn’t make it to the NFL title game.

Doubling up. A victory also would give the Saints a 10-win season for only the seventh time in franchise history. But it would be New Orleans’ third season of double-digit wins this decade.

Road to the Meadowlands. Somebody’s slide has to stop Sunday when the Falcons play the Giants. If nothing else, the Falcons have history going for them. The last 12 times the Giants and Falcons have faced each other (dating back to 1981), the road team has won. That’s the longest such streak in NFL history.

Antonio Bryant
The Bucs will be watching Antonio Bryant closely while trying to decide if he is a No. 1 receiver.
Bryant’s big chance. Looks like receiver Antonio Bryant will return for the Bucs on Sunday after missing two games because of a knee injury that’s bothered him pretty much all year. This will be Bryant’s first real chance to play with rookie quarterback Josh Freeman and the coaching staff and front office will be watching that chemistry very closely. The Bucs, wisely, used the franchise tag on Bryant instead of signing him to a long-term contract this year. To get a long-term contract out of the Bucs after this season, Bryant needs to get back out there and show he can be a true No. 1 receiver.

Time for Jenkins to step up. I know a lot of people in New Orleans are talking about newly-signed cornerback Chris McAlister. But they should be talking more about rookie Malcolm Jenkins. With starters Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter banged up, it’s looking like there’s a very good chance Jenkins and Randall Gay will start against the Bucs. McAlister is just there as a veteran insurance policy. Jenkins has had a fairly quiet rookie season so far, but that’s largely because Greer and Porter were playing so well. Jenkins has more physical talent than either of those guys and we’re about to see his first real test.