NFL Nation: throwback uniforms

Final Word: NFC South

September, 28, 2012
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Throwbacks bring good luck: Team marketing departments love throwback uniforms because they create more merchandise to sell. Some coaches also love the throwback uniforms because they believe they bring good luck, and coaches are a superstitious group. Count Atlanta’s Mike Smith among them. The Falcons will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday against Carolina. The Falcons started wearing throwback uniforms (red helmets, black jerseys and white pants) in 2009 and are 5-1 in those outfits. They’re scheduled to wear them again in a game Nov. 29 against New Orleans at the Georgia Dome.

[+] EnlargeAtlanta Falcons
AP Photo/Gregory BullWith a win over Carolina on Sunday, Atlanta would tie their franchise record for the best start to a season.
Looking at history: The Falcons can tie the franchise record for best start in team history with a win against Carolina. The 1986 and 2004 teams each started 4-0, but each lost its fifth game. If the Falcons win against the Panthers, they’ll have a chance to set a team record when they play at Washington in Week 5.

Chasing the record: There’s a bright spot as the 0-3 New Orleans Saints travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. If Drew Brees throws a touchdown pass, he’ll tie the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. The record is 47 by Johnny Unitas from 1956 through 1960. If Brees ties the record Sunday, he’ll have a chance to break it the following week at home against San Diego. You might recall that the Chargers are the team that unceremoniously let Brees go after the 2005 season, and he still carries a chip on his shoulder about that.

Contact coming slowly: We all know that the defense has been a big problem for the Saints. One of the biggest problems is that the Saints haven’t been able to stop runners in the backfield. The Saints have allowed a league-high 477 yards before making first contact with the ball carrier, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Opposing runners are averaging 3.7 yards before a New Orleans defender even touches them.

Run defense much improved: Despite their 1-2 start, the Buccaneers have made some significant improvements. One of them has been the run defense. Tampa Bay is allowing a league-best 2.3 yards per rushing attempt, and that comes after a season in which the Bucs allowed a league worst 156.1 rushing yards per game. The Bucs also are leading the NFL by allowing just 0.95 yards before first contact. Last year, the Bucs allowed 3.04 yards before contact, which ranked No. 31.

Final Word: NFC South

September, 23, 2011
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.

[+] EnlargeJon Gruden
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesThe 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.

Live from Raymond James Stadium

December, 5, 2010
TAMPA, Fla. -- I’m in Raymond James Stadium, where it’s not quite a sea of orange just yet. But that’s mainly because stadium gates have yet to open for the game in which the Bucs will wear their throwback uniforms against Atlanta.

I did see quite a few fans out in the parking lot wearing the orange. Lots of jerseys for Lee Roy Selmon, Mike Alstott and Doug Williams. But the most unique one I’ve seen so far was a Dave Moore (No. 83) jersey here in the press box.

It was worn by friend T.J. Rives, who is part of the Tampa Bay radio crew. There’s a little history to that jersey. It’s an official one that Moore wore back in the day when he was a tight end and long-snapper for the Bucs.

Moore gave the jersey to Rives last year when the Bucs were wearing throwback uniforms for the first time. Rives wore it that day and the Bucs went out and beat Green Bay, so he’s making it a tradition.

I’ll be back with the inactives in a bit.