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NFC South: Worst division since NFL realignment?

Published Nov. 13, 2014

Disappointing as it is for Bucs fans to simply see their team at the bottom of their division, there's this to consider: Tampa Bay is at the bottom of what might be the worst division the NFL has seen since it went to eight four-team divisions in 2002.

The NFC South's four teams are a combined 5-19-1 in games outside the division -- the Bucs' win at Pittsburgh is one of those wins -- and that puts them on pace to challenge the worst record by any division: 10-30 by the NFC West in 2008, which had a 9-7 division champ in Arizona, followed by the 49ers (7-9), Seahawks (4-12) and Rams (2-14).

Oddly, the NFC West had three terrible seasons from 2008-10 -- going 10-30, 12-28 and 13-27 out of the division -- but then last season matched the best record ever by a division, going 30-10 out of division behind Seattle (13-3), San Francisco (12-4) and Arizona (10-6), with the Rams in last place at 7-9.

How bad is this year's NFC South? Division-leading New Orleans, at 4-5, would be a game and a half out of fourth place in the AFC North, where every team has two more wins than losses. Consider overall point differential -- five of the NFL's eight divisions have each outscored their opponents over the course of the season, and the NFC West is at minus-2 points. That leaves the AFC South -- at minus-115 points -- and then the NFC South, which has been outscored by 181 points in games this season.

And again: The Saints, Falcons and Panthers are a combined 4-0 against the Bucs, but a combined 6-17-1 against the rest of the NFL.

To avoid being the worst division the NFL has seen since realignment, the NFC South must go 5-10 in its remaining 15 games outside the division. And of those 15 opponents, only three have less than four wins -- two being the Bucs' next two games against the Redskins (3-6) and Bears (3-6). So if the NFC South is to avoid resetting an NFL low, they may need the Bucs' help to do so.

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