TAMPA BAY: 6-4 (DIV) 3-0
CAROLINA: 4-6 (DIV) 2-2
NAWLEANS: 4-6 (DIV) 1-2
ATLANTA: 3-7 (DIV) 1-3
I mentioned in week 2 that the Football Outsiders Statistical Predictions had the Bucs winning the NFC South. Those same predictions had the Saints finishing last in the division. When you take into account that Atlanta and Carolina both lost their starting quarterbacks for the season (which as the Bucs learned last year) their respective season's went down the tubes, the predictions by FO appear amazingly prescient despite the fact that the FO guys did their best to explain away these computer results.
In other words, the NFC South is once again the Bucs division to lose, the way it has been since the division has existed (even if the division has only existed for five years).
HOUSTON 23, NEW ORLEANS 10
While I was not as opposed to the Mario Williams over Reggie Bush move as most people, I still believe Houston made a mistake not drafting a runningback. Personally I have avoided the Reggie Bush bandwagon for the same reason I warned people against jumping on the Saints bandwagon....all hype and no substance. Sure Bush gained a 100+ total yards in the game but look closer at his stats, he gained only 34 yards on 15 carries against a less than impressive Texans defense. Additionally he had a key fumble on the goal line when he tried try to run up the middle. Mario Williams, on the other hand, had a sack a forced fumble.
Of concern to me is a Saints team which just got back the Next Terrell Owens (in a good way). Andre Johnson has that extremely rare combination of size and speed that only two other receivers in the NFL have (the third being Calvin Johnson). The Bucs have excelled at shutting down opposing offenses but outside of Washington it looks like Houston poses the next biggest test on the Bucs schedule.
GREEN BAY 31, CAROLINA 17
I mentioned it last week but it's worth repeating, the Panthers will be scary next season. Assuming they get Jake Delhomme back they should have a slew of draft picks on the defense, in addition to a number of developing players on the offense and defense already. This was the Bucs blue print for success this season and assuming Petrino figures out how to coach an NFL team (admittedly a big if at this point) the NFC South could be very competitive next season much the same way the AFC South is this season. Notice how I leave the Saints out of this equation.