The Atlanta Falcons (6-9) will battle the Carolina Panthers (6-8-1) this Sunday for the NFC South division crown. The winner will host a playoff game and this has ruffled many feathers. A legitimate argument can be made that a division champ with a losing record is taking the place of a winning team in a tougher division. Though an obligatory rule, this is the latest example of the topsy-turvy history of the NFC South. The NFC South is ultra competitive with yearly turnover: it’s the only division where each team has made at least one NFC Conference Championship Game since divisional realignment in 2002. It’s also common for teams to go from worst to first; from 2003 to 2009, the last place team went on to win the division next season.
It’s ironic this is happening in the NFC South; in 2011 the reigning Super Bowl champions New Orleans Saints played the sub.-500 NFC West division winner Seattle Seahawks (7-9). The Seahawks upset the Saints and most Seattle fans point toward this game as being the Seahawks break out moment on the national stage. It was a great game and there’s no reason it can’t happen again. The Atlanta Falcons have an explosive offense featuring the league’s best wide receiver duo in Julio Jones and Roddy White with a premier quarterback in Matt Ryan. The Carolina Panthers feature a dynamic, dual threat quarterback in Cam Newton, who’s Superman-like efforts have pulled out miraculous wins all season. Whoever wins this game will prove to be daunting challenge to any team. Once the postseason starts, records are only window dressing. Anything can and will happen in a sudden death game and the winner could very well be the right team at the right time.