A team's fortunes within their division can determine the course of their season.
Think about it. If you're the Atlanta Falcons, you play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints six times total in the course of a season. That's over a third of the games. If they play exceptionally well, they're well on their way to a winning season. Or maybe not.
For a sample of what I mean, let's roll back through the last few years and look at the Falcons' records and records in the division.
- 2010: 13-3 record, 5-1 in the division
- 2009: 9-7, 3-3
- 2008: 11-5, 3-3
- 2007: 4-12, 1-5
- 2006: 7-9, 3-3
- 2005: 8-8, 2-4
How do you think the team will fare against the NFC South in 2011?