<
>

Final Word: NFC South

10/30/2009

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

Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 8:

Settling the South? I’m a firm believer in not overdramatizing things and I hope I’m sticking to that. But I can’t help but look at the "Monday Night Football" game between New Orleans and Atlanta and think the NFC South race is over if the Falcons lose. That would put the Saints at 7-0 and the Falcons at 4-3. I know it’s only seven games, but I don’t see this New Orleans team losing a lead like that.

Delhomme’s last stand. I found it interesting when John Fox hesitated a bit before officially saying quarterback Jake Delhomme will start against the Cardinals. The mere fact that Fox, who has long lived by the words “Jake is our starter,’, even paused leads me to believe the coach realizes that change might be necessary. I’m thinking if Delhomme throws a quick interception or two, his time might be up. Ironically, many people other than Fox thought Delhomme's time should have been up the last time the Panthers played the Cardinals -- when he threw five interceptions in last season’s playoff game.

Jarrett’s first stand? It looks as if Dwayne Jarrett will start at wide receiver in place of the injured Muhsin Muhammad. Maybe this will be the chance that Jarrett has needed to show he can be a starter. Fox has a history of sticking with veterans past their prime and Jarrett is a guy who came out of college with lots of upside. But he’s pretty much been on the bench his entire career. Maybe, just maybe, Jarrett will show he’s not the second coming of Keary Colbert.

Atlanta’s challenge. I’m real interested to see how flexible Atlanta coach Mike Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey are. The Falcons are supposed to be a run-first team and that worked out just great last year. But Michael Turner's not putting up big numbers this year and that’s taking a toll on the entire offense. Atlanta’s strengths are quarterback Matt Ryan, tight end Tony Gonzalez and receiver Roddy White. Let’s see if Smith and Mularkey change their philosophy to play to their strengths.

Mr. October? I know Reggie Bush is taking a beating from fans in New Orleans for not producing more and that’s justified because this guy was a No. 2 overall draft pick. But I think it’s time to realize Bush is what he is. He’s not a feature back. But he is a rare talent. He’s still going to make plays to win a game or two and he’s got a good track record on "Monday Night Football."