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The NFC South Remains A Model Of Parity

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The division may be the league's most balanced, year-after-year.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL's big focus for a while was on achieving parity. The NFC South has been arguably the league's greatest success in that regard.

Since the division was created in 2002, each team has won the division exactly three times. The Falcons won in 2004, 2010 and 2012, which are easily the three best years of the NFC South's existence, but every team has had a crack. Only two of those winners have gone on to win a Super Bowl, the 2002 Buccaneers and 2009 Saints.

When you consider that in the same span the Patriots have won the AFC East 10 times and the much ballyhooed NFC West has been won by the Seahawks six times, it's a marvel that the South has been so balanced. It's a testament to how competitive each team has been over the last 12 years, frankly. There have been truly dismal years for every team, sure, but someone's always ready to step up.

That, plus the Panthers' ongoing offensive line, receiving corps and secondary woes, helps to explain why few are forecasting a repeat division title for Carolina. Given modest pullback from the Panthers, the Saints' talent, and improvement from the Falcons and Buccaneers, the division feels like it's fairly wide open, though I'd have to grimly project New Orleans as the early favorite.

How do you imagine the NFC South will shake out?