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Reviewing the 2014 NFC South

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC South was represented in the playoffs by the Carolina Panthers, whose record was 7 wins, 8 losses, and a tie. No other division has a representative in the playoffs with a losing record. That alone should encapsulate the season the NFC South had.

2014 NFC South
Records
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff Div W Div L
Carolina 7 8 1 339 374 -35 4 2
New Orleans 7 9 0 401 424 -23 3 3
Atlanta 6 10 0 381 417 -36 5 1
Tampa Bay 2 14 0 277 410 -133 0 6
http://espn.go.com/nfl/standings

The point differential stat supports the inferiority of the division that is called the NFC South. It is very disturbing to identify the vast point differential that the Bucs are reflecting. Yet, an even perplexing stat recognition is the fact that Bucs have the second fewest points allowed in the division. A more bemusing fact is the Atlanta Falcons are the only team who had the best record, or shared in the best record, in its division not to win its division.

NFC South

This section will look at the production within the Division.

2014 NFC South
Dvisional Record
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff
Atl 5 1 0 172 130 42
Car 4 2 0 141 91 50
NO 3 3 0 146 169 -23
TB 0 6 0 113 182 -69

The Bucs are owners of the worst points allowed stat within the division, but not so in totality of the season. It is safe to say the defense was being scored upon too easily by its divisional foes. On the other side of the spectrum for offense, a Dirk Koetter offense led the division with Atlanta. The only silver lining here is that Koetter now commands the Bucs' offense, if you are a Bucs fan.

Carolina Panthers

2014 Carolina Panthers
Dvision Record: 4 - 2 (Division Champion)
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff
TB 1 20 14 6
NO 1 10 28 -18
Atl 1 17 19 -2
NO 1 41 10 31
TB 1 19 17 2
Atl 1 34 3 31
Total 4 2 0 141 91 50
Average 23.50 15.17 8.33

Carolina has the best defense in the division and it reflects it in the divisional stat, nearly 40 points better in points allowed. They also have the best point differential in the South despite having the third best points for production.  The Panthers defense allowed an average of 15.1 ppg versus the division. That is an amazing feat and we should all expect that defense to remain dominant next season.

New Orleans Saints

2014 New Orleans Saints
Dvision Record: 3 - 3
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff
Atl 1 34 37 -3
TB 1 37 31 6
Car 1 28 10 18
Car 1 10 41 -31
Atl 1 14 30 -16
TB 1 23 20 3
Total 3 3 0 146 169 -23
Average 24.33 28.17 -3.83

The trend I find here is that the Saints offense ran into a wall the second time visiting its divisional rivals. That last game against the Buccaneers has a caveat such that Tampa was inserting players into the game who were not starters as a form of evaluations for the next season. The first round through, the Saints offense was averaging 33 points per game, ppg. On its second run through, New Orleans' scoring average was cut in half to 15.6 ppg.

Atlanta Falcons

2014 Atlanta Falcons
Dvision Record: 5 - 1
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff
NO 1 37 34 3
TB 1 56 14 42
TB 1 27 17 10
Car 1 19 17 2
NO 1 30 14 16
Car 1 3 34 -31
Total 5 1 0 172 130 42
Average 28.67 21.67 7.00

If Atlanta would have won the last game against Carolina, then the Falcons would have won the division. For that last game, the Falcons offense allowed 6 sacks, threw two pick-sixes, and a fumble at its own 4 yard line that eventually lead to a touchdown. That is 21 points due to Carolina's defense. Carolina's offense could muster 13 points on its own. With the playoffs on the line, the Falcons offense choked. Now, there's a new coaches in Atlanta.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2014 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Dvision Record: 0 - 6
Team W L T PF PA Pt Diff
Car 1 14 20 -6
Atl 1 14 56 -42
NO 1 31 37 -6
Atl 1 17 27 -10
Car 1 17 19 -2
NO 1 20 23 -3
Total 0 6 0 113 182 -69
Average 18.83 30.33 -11.50

Worst offense and worst defense in the division is what transpired for the Bucs. The first meeting with the division occurred before the bye week and the Bucs' defense allowed 37.6 ppg. After the bye week, it ran through the second time and improved defensively, dropping the average to 23 ppg allowed. The difference between the two productions (before - after bye week) is 14.6 points. That difference is over two touchdowns!

Recap

The highest scoring offense in the division no longer exists as Atlanta fired its coaches. Carolina had the best defense in the division and continued to improve throughout the season. New Orleans' offense tapped out on round two in this quadrilateral division. A resurgence in defense sparked into Tampa's game after the bye week the second go around in division play.

Although the Panthers won the wild card game, it was against QB Ryan Lindley. Who is that? Exactly.

Improvements are needed everywhere for the NFC South. A huge move occurred as the Bucs nabbed Atlanta's OC when Koetter became available, taking the best offense's leader in the division is a coup for the Bucs, but will it be enough to rise from the bottom of the bottom? If the Bucs plan on seeing the playoffs, it needs to dominate the NFC South in order to increase its possibility.