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The Great Debate: Could the 2010 NFC South Be The Toughest Division Ever?

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There's an 84-imus Prime over there. Perhaps I should feed him.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
There's an 84-imus Prime over there. Perhaps I should feed him. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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In this series of posts, I seek to find the answer to questions that are brought up around here or around the various sports conversation sites. I use a realistic, low-stat opinion to generate discussion about these topics, but I also encourage the use of stats in an argument.

Hello again everyone. I hope everyone had a fantastic thanksgiving, and to start off this great Friday, I'm throwing a debate post at ya.

Today, I'll present my argument of why I think the 2010 NFC South is one of the toughest divisions in the history of the NFL. I may intentionally make this a little short-sighted so as to get you all to prove me wrong, because that's what these are about!

Follow me after the jump and let's talk about this division which continually has my heart on alert status.

First and foremost, I love watching Falcons highlights. I don't care if it's on youtube, nfl.com, or any other site out there. I love watching them.

To kick things off, I did a little research. I emphasize a little research because doing a full blown research of this would take hours upon hours and for all intents and purposes, it would take too long to explain and research to truly be effective.

I looked at ESPN's Power Rankings from the Week 12s of 2002 and onward to see if any of the divisions had as much....dominance, if you will, as the NFC South has been having to this point this year. Yes, the Carolina Panthers are a miserable team this year, but injuries have decimated them. They don't exist anyway.

Note: When I say "even divisional spread", I mean that there are no more than two teams per division in the top 10

In Week 12, 2002, the NFC South had 3 teams in the top 10 of ESPN's PRs. The Bucs had 8 wins, the Saints had 7, and we had 6.5 (6 wins 1 tie). The AFC West also had three teams in the top 10. This is, of course, assuming I remember the divisions right (I probably don't.)

In W12, 2003, the NFCS was atrocious. Only one team was worth its salt at Week 12, and that was the Panthers with 8 wins. The other three teams weren't worth mentioning. There was a pretty even divisional spread in the top 10.

Speaking of which. This research brings back a lot of memories. Quincy Carter for the Cowboys. Brett Favre with the Packers. Jim Fassel coaching. I could go on. The Chiefs were 9-1 after week 11 in 2003. Hah!

In W12, 2004, The Falcons were the only NFCS team in the top 10. There was also an even divisional spread. No one division stood out. Did you know that there were three 9-1 teams that year? We weren't one of them, but dang.

In W12, 2005, There was only one NFCS team in the top 10, and it was the Panthers at #8 with a 7-3 record. The other NFCS teams were close, but they weren't good enough. Another even divisional spread. There were no 1 loss teams at this point, just a 0 loss team and a bunch of 2 loss teams.

In W12, 2006, there was only one NFCS team in the top 10, and it was the ever-stable Panthers at #8 with a 6-4 record. The AFC West had three teams in the top 10 with individually wrapped wins of 8, 7, and 6.

In 2007, only the Bucs cracked the top 10, and they barely squeaked in at #10 with a 6-4 record. More even divisional spread, though mention of Josh Cribbs makes me wonder how long he's been playing or how bad my memory is getting.

In 2008, the Falcons were sitting at #14 at 6-4, but the Panthers and Bucs were in the top 10 with 8-2 and 7-3 records, respectively. More even divisional spread, here, though we finished that year 5-1 sans 3rd and 18.

In 2009, the NFCS had exactly 1 team in the top 10, and as I'm sure you know, it was the Saints. More even divisional spread here.

And now, in 2010, there are only 2 teams in the top 10, but the Bucs are #11 and, assuming they win this weekend, will put 3 teams in the top 10. The 3 top teams in the NFC have 8, 7, and 7 wins, respectively. This is, of course, pre-Saints victory of yesterday.

I hope you all are starting to see what I'm getting at. Yes, power rankings do not mean anything, but I was largely looking at those for the team's records over the years. After all, if you want to silence the critics, start winning.

The Falcons have little breathing room in the NFCS, which stinks because it sure would be nice to gather any kind of breathing room when you have the likes of the defending champ Saints and the upstart Bucs breathing down your neck every week.

Just about every game is must-win, these days. Gone are the days of Kurt Warner riding an old, dead ARI team to the Superbowl, and gone are the days of napping.

From my short research, it appeared that no other division had this many wins among its top 3 teams at this point in the year. I could be wrong, if only because it would've taken 75 years to add all that up.

We have the defending champs in our division, a lucky-behind Tampa Bay that refuses to lose, and the Failorina Panthers, who haven't put up a fight at all.

While the Panthers terrible record would weigh the stats down, the fact remains that the top 3 teams are all formidable opponents who can win week in and week out.

I'll use my short research to conclude that yes, this 2010 NFC South is the toughest division in recent memory, and maybe in the entire NFL.

The NFC East has had some good years, but I don't know if 3 of their teams could tell you they were all doing well at this point in the year.

The rest of the divisions only had two teams that were worth a darn in the power rankings the bulk of the time. There were a couple occasions where the AFC West had a team or two, but they could not equal the win total that our three teams currently have.

All this being said, I don't know a lot of the older years when divisions could've just as easily been more difficult. I welcome anyone who would like to tell me about a division that was better overall in its day.

What do you all think? Is this division one of the toughest ever seen? Can we actually win this division? Will Tampa Bay finally start to slow down, and will the Madden Curse laugh at Brees as he throws another interception? I look forward to talking about this with you all!