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NFC South Standings: What is the meaning of life?

Are we all alone out here?

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons lost again, and man, sometimes the footbal team you invest a lot of time and energy and care into disappoint you terribly, and you start wondering if perhaps everything you experience on a daily basis is equally out of your control and fraught with terror and heartbreak. Then you look at the NFC South standings, and you know it is so.

NFC South Standings

Panthers: 13-0
Buccaneers: 6-7
Falcons: 6-7
Saints: 5-8

The Panthers are one of the best teams in football, and they just defeated the Falcons by an indescribably painful score of 38-0. Perhaps they are Super Bowl bound, and will reach that ultimate moment of triumph that fan will never forget, except when the team becomes terrible again and they promptly do forget, because even these victories are merely ephemeral. For the moment, though, they have clinched the division and are on top of the football world.

The Buccaneers beat the Falcons and put themselves in a great position to chase a playoff spot, and then they lost to the Saints, who are a miserable football team in their own right. Will the Buccaneers be doomed to a purgatory of tantalizing victories followed by crushing defeats, forever grasping for playoffs that are just outside of their reach? As long as Lovie Smith remains coach, we say yes.

The Falcons, meanwhile, are a living testament to the idea that loving one football team your entire life is an exercise in futility. They hired a new head coach, invested in some key free agents, overhauled their schemes on both sides of the ball and managed to get crushed by the admittedly improved Panthers by an even worse score than they were crushed at the end of last year. There is no basement for this team, which regularly forces us to confront questions of mortality, and whether we will be alive when they are great enough to win a Super Bowl.

The Saints are merrily ruining others' seasons even as they fiddle aboard a ship sinking into a cesspool. Sean Payton will almost certainly be gone, Drew Brees is winding down a Hall of Fame career, and they may be bad for a long time even in this division, which is a veritable buffet of mediocrity outside of the one team that scrabbles frantically to the top every year. All hail football!