What Sesame Street and The NFC South Have in Common

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What Sesame Street and The NFC South Have in Common
(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

We didn't have cable TV in my house when I was growing up.  So for a kid, that meant the three S's; Sports, Saturday morning cartoons, and Sesame Street.

Ok, so maybe it was the four S's.

This isn't an old-timer talking; I'm 27-years-old.  My parents were just cheap.

So, while my friends were watching Salute Your Shorts or Ren and Stimpy, I was watching Sesame Street and singing that annoying song "one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong."

The tune was so catchy it would stay in your head for days.

I was reminded of that song as I watched the 2009 NFL Draft and I quickly noticed a pattern emerging among the teams in the NFC South. 

The Saints and Panthers went defensive with their first three picks.  The Falcons waited until the fifth round to take an offensive player and that was with their sixth pick.

The Buccaneers, however, were the only team to take an offensive player in its first three picks.  As a matter of fact, Tampa Bay took QB Josh Freeman out of Kansas State with its first pick.

One of these things is not like the other...

I'm not saying the Bucs should copy everything the rest of the division is doing, but it begs the question—what do these teams know that the Bucs don't?

Simple; the rest of the teams in the NFC South know what kind of an offensive football team they're going to be next season.

The Bucs don't.

Tampa Bay has huge question marks at quarterback and receiver.  Is Luke McCown ready to be the captain of the ship, or will it be Byron Leftwich, Brian Griese, or the beginning of the Josh Freeman era?  Is Antonio Bryant for real or was last season just a money grab? 

The point is, no one in Tampa knows.

The Saints are poised to rekindle what had been a long-running pattern in the NFC South; teams that finish last one year, win the division the next.  That's not much of a stretch for a team that went 8-8 last season and outscored their opponents by more than 70 points.

Drew Brees flirted with Dan Marino's single-season passing yards record last season, imagine what he could do with a full season from Marques Colston and Jeremy Shockey.

Atlanta somehow managed to get better (see: signing TE Tony Gonzalez) in the offseason and that's a scary thought for what was already one of the most balanced offenses in the league.

Sure, there will probably be some kind of sophomore slump from Matt Ryan, but nothing will be new for him this season.  There won't be any rookie growing pains.  Besides, there really weren't all that many last season, anyway.

The Falcons have also said they'll do what they can to limit Michael Turner's workload this season, and work in Jerious Norwood more often as a change of pace back.

Which is exactly what worked so well for Carolina last season and what should continue to be their calling card in 2009-2010.

DeAngelo Williams might be listed ahead of Jonathan Stewart on the depth chart, but you might as well call them Public Enemies No. 1 and No. 1A.  Those two may find their yards harder to come by this season, however, because there's no telling what the Panthers will get out of the quarterback position this year.

Remember Jake Delhomme's six turnovers against the Cardinals in the playoffs?  Because you can bet the rest of the division does.  That film has been on loop in meeting rooms and strategy sessions throughout the offseason.

That playoff meltdown wasn't a blip on the radar.  Last year, Delhomme threw four interceptions against the Raiders and three against the Bucs.

It won't be long until we know whether or not Delhomme's surgically-repaired elbow has any bullets left.  And if it doesn't, that quarterback cupboard up in Charlotte is pretty bare.  Josh McCown or Matt Moore?  If it gets to that point, does it even matter?

The point is, there are three good-to-great offenses in the NFC South and the Bucs aren't one of them.  Just how good is the division?  Carolina, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans all have strength of schedules that rank in the top eight in the NFL.

All the more reason to use the draft to shore up the holes on defense.  The Saints did it.  So did the Falcons and Panthers.

Those three teams have something in common; they'll have something to play for in December. 

But when it comes to the playoffs, at least for this year, the Bucs just don't belong.

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