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Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Looking at NFC South Power Rankings

By Pat Yasinskas

The ESPN.com Week 1 Power Rankings are up and the NFC South has three teams in the top 12. For what it’s worth this time of year, let’s remind you that 12 teams make the playoffs.

The New Orleans Saints are No. 5 and the Atlanta Falcons are No. 6. Fair enough. In my eyes, you can flip a coin on these two NFC South powerhouses.

But what I’m wondering is, what happens if the Saints go up to Lambeau Field on Thursday night and beat No. 1-rated Green Bay? Winning on the road against the Super Bowl champs? Shouldn’t that automatically vault the Saints over the Eagles, Steelers and Patriots and into the No. 1 spot?

I think so. But we’ll worry about that if the Saints win.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers come into the season at No. 12. Not bad for the league’s youngest team. But we should get an early sense of what the Bucs are all about. On Sunday, they host Detroit, another young team that many think is on the rise.

In a bit of a surprise, the Carolina Panthers aren’t No. 32. Instead, they’re No. 31, one spot behind the Bengals. I’ve got a hunch the Panthers are going to be a lot better than last year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they win their opener. It’s at Arizona.

The Cardinals are ranked No. 21. Yeah, I know they’ve added quarterback Kevin Kolb, but is he really going to change things that much and that fast for a team that was 5-11 last season?