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this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Upon further review: Week 2 By Seth Polansky NFL.com (Sept. 18, 2006) -- In a division where there has been a different winner each season since realignment, it looks like the NFC South is headed for another changing of the ...

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Old 09-19-2006, 01:54 PM   #1
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Saints and Falcons (NFL.com)

Upon further review: Week 2

By Seth Polansky

(Sept. 18, 2006) -- In a division where there has been a different winner each season since realignment, it looks like the NFC South is headed for another changing of the guard.

Will it be Carolina? Not right now. How about Tampa Bay? The Bucs have yet to score a touchdown in 2006. And those were the preseason favorites! So who could it be? That's right, the two unbeaten teams in the driver's seat right now are the Falcons and the Saints.

New Orleans is the only team that hasn't won an NFC South title in the past four years. In fact, they won just a single crown back in 2000 in the old NFC West on a tiebreaker. If the Saints are to win more than they lose this time around, then they need to be as lucky for the next 14 weeks as they have been for the first two. The combined record of the Saints' two opponents from last season was 10-22. The combined 2005 record of the Falcons two opponents was 22-10.

Advantage Falcons. And don't forget Atlanta's journey to the NFC Championship Game just two seasons ago. They have been there before with this same exact offense. It's scary to think that it could be even better now.

Have you seen Atlanta run the ball? It's almost unfair at this point. Center Todd McClure and Todd Weiner and Kynan Forney on the right side of the line are entering their fifth year working together. And even though this is Matt Lehr's second season at left guard and Wayne Gandy 's first at left tackle, those two are seasoned veterans that have previously started for run-oriented offenses. And the left side of the line looked fantastic in Week 1 against Carolina, helping the Falcons go for 252 yards. That's the same Carolina team that was third in total defense in 2005 and fourth against the run.

The Falcons were the NFL's top rushing team in 2004 when they won the NFC South, and then they did it again while finishing at just 8-8 last season. So far in eight quarters of play, Warrick Dunn, Michael Vick, Jerious Norwood and Justin Griffith have combined for 557 yards -- Griffith has one carry for six yards.

That's 557 yards rushing in two games. Nine teams don't have 557 yards all together. And Kansas City and Miami aren't off the hook either, as those two squads are within 11 total yards of the magic number.

A lot has been said about Vick's sporadic moments of clarity as a quarterback. Is he an actual quarterback or is he a running back with a great arm? It really doesn't matter right now. If fans can't be happy with a 2-0 record over two divisional opponents while outscoring them 34-9, then they'll never be happy.

Meanwhile, the Saints are enjoying a rebirth after the devastation due to Hurricane Katrina last year, and a miserable season to boot. Many people from around the country, and not just football fans, are pulling for this New Orleans team to do well. So far, so good.

And it's not like it's all Reggie Bush. The so-called savior of the franchise has just been one piece of the puzzle. Deuce McAllister, who tore his ACL last October and only rushed 12 times for 82 yards in the preseason, was definitely on the loose in his team's 34-27 victory over Green Bay. While 47 yards on 12 carries isn't a great stat line, he did score twice. One was a goal-line surge and the other was a 23-yard scamper through several Packers trying to bring him down.

Drew Brees is also coming back from major surgery, and he didn't disappoint the Bayou fans. He went pass-for-pass with the legendary Brett Favre and came away with 353 yards and two touchdowns. And what's more important than the stats is the fact that he rallied the Saints from a 13-0 second-quarter deficit with an accurate right arm and stellar leadership, despite some miscues with the ball in the first half.

Now if only the defense can catch up with the offense. And the Saints are going to need that defense when they play the Falcons. Oh boy are they going to need a monumental effort on defense.


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