NFC South Notebook: Falcons-Saints bring division into spot light on Thanksgiving
Of the eight divisions in the NFL, the NFC South is the only one without a team dating back to before the Super Bowl era. The Atlanta Falcons were the first franchise in the current NFC South to come into existence, and they just missed the pre-Super Bowl era, playing their first season in the league in 1966.
The New Orleans Saints came one year later in 1967. They started playing together in the newly formed NFC West in 1970. In the first six years of that division, the Falcons and Saints combined to post nine losing seasons.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers came along later in 1976. All they did was lose their first 26 games as a franchise. But then the Buccaneers received the chance to play the Saints in their 27th contest, and finally, Tampa Bay won.
As for the Carolina Panthers, they didn't come into existence until 1995. While they advanced to the NFC Championship Game in their second season, the Panthers still had six losing seasons in their first eight years.
The NFC South, even though the division itself has only been around since 2002, isn't known for its history, and when that history is brought up, it's marred with losing. Even in more recent years, which has seen the division represent the NFC in three of the last 10 Super Bowls, the NFC South's reputation as a division without a blue blood organization continues.
But that's what makes the second straight Falcons-Saints Thanksgiving matchup so special. The NFL has elected not to television another Giants-Redskins matchup or the Packers and Vikings one more time. The league chose to highlight a non-traditional rivalry; one that dates back only 50 years but is filled with enough hate for 50 centuries.
What better way to highlight that rivalry and change the national narrative of the team's histories in the NFC South than to give it the national stage on America's holiday most synonymous with the NFL.
Who know's, maybe in a few more years, the Falcons-Saints rivalry will also be synonymous with Thanksgiving.