The Falcons are one game out of first place. That's all I need to write to set the tone for the rest of this piece, which will plumb the darker depths of the NFL for about the seventh week in a row.
Simply put, the NFC South is a catastrophe. There's one division each season that is overwhelmingly mediocre, at best, but it's been a while since the South was so terrible from top to bottom. The Saints managed to lose in heart-breaking fashion to the 49ers, the Panthers were stomped into a fine jelly by the Eagles and the Buccaneers were on the wrong end of yet another ugly loss to the Falcons. That leaves Atlanta as the only team with a win, and they're just behind New Orleans for the division lead, somehow.
NFC South Standings
We can safely write the Buccaneers off. That's a three game deficit and they've already lost eight games, meaning they'd have to rip off a 6-1 stretch just to stand a chance even in this massive clusterfluff of a division. Go ahead and mentally cross them off the list.
It's murkier beyond that. The Falcons currently hold a tiebreaker over the Saints with their perfect NFC South record and win against New Orleans in Week 1, and they'd have an even better one if they beat the Panthers in Week 11. A win and a Saints loss puts Atlanta in first place in the division.
A Saints win and a Falcons loss puts New Orleans at .500 and the Falcons two full games below them, as well as slightly behind the Panthers. That's not a death knell, per se, but given the rest of the schedule, it would make things exceedingly difficult.
The bottom line: The Falcons have to take care of business on their end if they want to walk out of the division in 2014. Given the state of the division, there's still a chance they do so, albeit one that's quite slim.
Your thoughts on the NFC South?