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Friday, October 1, 2010
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 4:

Drew Brees
Drew Brees and the Saints appear to finally be hitting their stride.
A calming Brees. Walking out of the Superdome on Sunday night, strolling through the New Orleans airport Monday and reading my inbox throughout the week, I got the impression a lot of Saints fans think the sky is falling. Yes, that was a tough overtime loss to Atlanta in Week 3. But one loss does not mean things are crumbling. Exhibit A: Drew Brees. He’s still the quarterback and that alone means the Saints still are going to win a lot.

How bad can it get? Speaking of the Saints, the other reason fans don’t need to be gloomy is because the Carolina Panthers are coming to town. The Panthers (0-3) have played the Saints tough, winning seven of the past 10 regular-season games. But Carolina is in free-fall. It’s sad to see it come to this because John Fox has been a good coach and Carolina still has some good players. But if the Panthers don’t suddenly rise up and shock the Saints, the bottom is going to fall out of their season in a hurry.

Pound the rock. The Panthers have given us no evidence they’re ready to turn things around. But if I’m Fox, I’m going to go down swinging. Other teams have been able to run on the Saints. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart really haven’t gotten on track this year. But I’d try pounding away with those two and see what happens. Besides, the only other offensive option is for Jimmy Clausen to try to get the ball to Steve Smith, who is going to draw double or triple coverage all game. Clausen was 16-for-33 for 188 yards in his first start last week, a 20-7 loss to Cincinnati.

Coming to life. I can’t help but think back to the preseason when Atlanta fans were freaking out because the Falcons really didn’t make any major moves on their defensive line. Well, it’s looking like that was the right move. John Abraham’s showing signs of life and Kroy Biermann is producing. Jonathan Babineaux is the division’s best defensive tackle, and Peria Jerry, Corey Peters and Jamaal Anderson are playing well. All of a sudden, Atlanta, which faces the 49ers at home Sunday, has the best defensive line in the NFC South.

The unsung heroes. Speaking of Atlanta and lines, I once again must commend the offensive line for its performance in the win over the Saints. The Falcons don’t have big names up front, but they form a very good unit that went out and beat up the Super Bowl champions. That’s why I repeatedly say Atlanta offensive line coach Paul Boudreau is the best position coach in the NFC South.