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Friday, September 23, 2011
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 3:

Looking back, but not too far. The Saints will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday against the Texans. But New Orleans fans better hope the defense doesn’t turn back the clock too far. The Saints need to play defense the same way they did in last week’s victory against Chicago. Houston has plenty of offensive weapons and the Saints can’t afford to play the way they did in the season opener against Green Bay. It should help significantly that defensive end Will Smith is back after serving a two-game suspension.

Jon Gruden
The last time the Buccaneers beat the Falcons, coach Jon Gruden was still prowling the sidelines.
One-sided rivalry. Tampa Bay hasn’t won against Atlanta since Jon Gruden was coaching the Buccaneers. The Falcons have won five in a row. Here’s a little tip for Bucs coach Raheem Morris: Try getting your offense on track in the first half. Josh Freeman can rally his team from a 17-point deficit against a team like the Vikings. That’s probably not going to work against the Falcons, who are a little bit better than Minnesota.

Shooting for 30. The Saints can make some franchise history if they score 30 points against the Texans. It would mark the first time the Saints have scored 30 or more points in each of their first three games.

Revisiting the 1995 expansion. The Jaguars and Panthers both came into the league in 1995. The Jaguars have had more regular-season success. They’re 134-124, while the Panthers are 119-139. The Jaguars also hold a 3-1 advantage in head-to-head play. But the Panthers have reached a Super Bowl and the Jaguars haven’t. I give a big edge to the Panthers in this one because their rookie quarterback (Cam Newton) already has shown he can play in this league. Jacksonville’s rookie, Blaine Gabbert, will be making his first start.

Whatever happened to Roddy White? The Atlanta receiver had 115 catches last season. Through the first two games, White has only 11 catches. He has been targeted on only one throw of more than 15 yards and that pass was incomplete. History has shown that you can’t keep White quiet for long. He and Tampa Bay cornerback Aqib Talib are two guys who like to talk and their matchup could be interesting. But the real key could be if Bucs safeties Cody Grimm and Sean Jones are able to continue the trend of keeping White from getting open downfield.