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Friday, December 4, 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 information about Week 13.

Matt Moore
New starter Matt Moore may be in for a lot of handoffs on Sunday.
Don’t believe the hype. Back at the start of the season, I would have guessed that the Eagles at Falcons would be the game of the year for any NFC South team. Turns out, it’s not even the game of the week. Part of that’s because the Saints are chasing 16-0. But it really comes down to what’s happening (or not happening) with the Falcons and the Eagles. Michael Vick vs. Matt Ryan? It’s not happening. Ryan’s out with an injury and Chris Redman will play in his place. Vick’s nothing but a role player for the Eagles. Expect Vick to get a pretty positive response from the Atlanta fans, but this game has nothing to do with Atlanta’s franchise quarterback of the past playing against the franchise quarterback of the present.

Remember where you were in 2007? Speaking of Ryan, I was absolutely stunned to see in this week’s chat and mailbag that some Atlanta fans are writing off the second-year quarterback. Surely, you can’t be serious? That’s taking fair-weather fandom to a whole new level. Yeah, Ryan hasn’t been flawless this year, but that has more to do with the team around him than it does with him. This guy’s better than most quarterbacks in the league. One prediction here: I think Atlanta’s going to appreciate Ryan a lot more after a full game of Redman.

Not going to happen. There’s been a lot of talk about the Saints perhaps having a letdown against the Redskins. Hey, that’s logical. The Monday night game against New England was physically and emotionally draining and the Saints are working on a short week. But one of the subtle things that’s impressed me most about the Saints this year is their leadership. Drew Brees, Jonathan Vilma and Darren Sharper have been around the block and they’re not going to let this team have a letdown.

Moore or less? Congratulations to the Matt Moore Fan Club on getting your wish. The Carolina quarterback will get the start in place of the injured Jake Delhomme. Maybe he’ll provide the kind of offensive spark Carolina’s been missing all year and maybe he’ll surprise everyone and show he can be the long-term replacement for Delhomme. Or maybe he’ll show why he came into the league undrafted and why coach John Fox hasn’t been exactly eager to get this guy on the field. Is there an A.J. Feeley Fan Club out there?

Coaching tip to Raheem Morris. Overall, you did a nice job taking over as the defensive coordinator last week. Good for you and good for the Tampa 2. But you might want to switch over to the Tampa 8 or 9 this week -- as in put eight or nine men in the box. Just a hunch here, but Fox is playing a backup quarterback and he’s got a talented offensive backfield. I don’t think you’re going to see Moore doing much more than handing off.