By Ray Hamill
Often in sports, it’s not how good you are, but rather how lucky you are.
Take the Atlanta Falcons for example. They’re awful this year. They really are. They can’t run the ball. They can’t stop the run. They can’t stop the pass. In fact, they can’t stop much of anything.
But that doesn’t matter, because they have one ace up their sleeve that just about any other team in football would love. They play in the NFC South.
And the NFC South is not just the worst division in the NFL, but statistically one of the worst divisions in the history of professional football.
The division is full of losers. Literally.
Almost three quarters of the way through the season, the four teams in the NFC South are a combined 6-20 against the rest of the league, including just three wins against teams with winning records, which averages out to about one a month.
Think about that. The entire NFC South is averaging just one win a month against teams with winning records.
Not only that, but this year’s NFC South is so poor, the table-topping Falcons, who are a dismal 4-6 on the year and 0-6 against non-division opponents, are on pace to post the lowest division-winning record in the history of the NFL, and could potentially claim the division with as few as six wins.
Only three times before has a team with a losing record made the NFL playoffs – the Lions (4-5) and Browns (4-5) in the strike-shortened 1982 season, and the Seahawks (7-9) in 2010 – but the winner of this season’s NFC South may be about to join them.
But say what you like about the quality of football we’re seeing from these minor leaguers, the NFC South is a competitive division.
In fact, lousy and all as it might be, it is the second most competitive division in the NFL, with just two games separating the four teams (only the ultra competitive AFC North, with a half game separating the four teams, is tighter).
So you see, the teams in the NFC South might be awful, but at least they’re equally awful.
And that should make for a fun stretch run in the NFC South, with even the pathetic Bucs still in the hunt and quite probably the only 2-8 team in the history of sports with realistic playoff ambitions.
That’s worth repeating.
The NFC South is so bad that even the 2-8 Bucs still harbor realistic ambitions of winning the division and making the playoffs.