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The National Football Conference – Southern Division or NFC South is one of the four divisions of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). It was created prior to the 2002 NFL season, when the league realigned divisions after expanding to 32 teams. The NFC South currently has four member clubs: the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Prior to the 2002 season, the Buccaneers belonged to the AFC West (1976) and NFC Central (1977–2001), while the other three teams were part of the geographically inaccurate NFC West. As a matter of fact, the South has more members of the old NFC West than the current NFC West does (three to the current West’s two).
|Conference||National Football Conference|
|League||National Football League|
|No. of teams||4|
|Most recent NFC South champion(s)||New Orleans Saints (5th title)|
|Most NFC South titles||New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers (5 titles)|
The NFC South is the only division since the 2002 realignment to have each of its teams make a conference championship game appearance as well as a Super Bowl appearance: Tampa Bay (2002), Atlanta (2004, 2012, and 2016), Carolina (2003, 2005 and 2015), and New Orleans (2006, 2009, and 2018). Also since 2002, each team has won at least three division titles, the only such division in the league. It is also the only division to have zero division sweeps by any of its member teams.
Entering 2016, the Saints have the most wins among division members. The Saints record is 331–418–5; their win in Super Bowl XLIV is the highlight of an 8–9 playoff record. The Falcons record is 330–432–6 with a playoff record of 9–13; the Falcons lost in Super Bowls XXXIII and LI, the latter in overtime. The Buccaneers record is 241–386–1 with a victory in their only Super Bowl appearance, Super Bowl XXXVII, and an overall playoff record of 6–9. The Panthers have the best playoff record (9–8) of any team in the division with losses in Super Bowls XXXVIII and 50 and the best overall record in the division (166–169–1).
The NFC South is the only NFC division not to have any teams that predate the 1960 launch of the American Football League, the NFL’s former rival league. The oldest team is the Falcons, who began play in 1966, and the Saints began play only a year later in 1967. Each of the other NFC divisions has 3 teams that began play earlier than 1960, while the remaining three such teams are in the American Football Conference.
The NFC South became the second division in five years to have a champion with a losing record, as the 2014 Carolina Panthers won the division with a 7–8–1 record. (The 2010 Seattle Seahawks won the NFC West with a 7–9 record.) Additionally, Carolina became the first team to repeat as NFC South champions since the creation of the division. The Panthers are the only team to win the NFC South three consecutive times from 2013 to 2015. On January 7, 2018 two NFC South teams (Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints) met in the NFL playoffs for the first time since the division was created in 2002.
Place cursor over year for division champ or Super Bowl team.
|NFC South Division|
|New Orleans Saints|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Division Won Super Bowl Division Won NFC Championship|
Wild Card qualifiersEdit
|2002||Atlanta Falcons||9–6–1||Won Wild Card Playoffs (at Packers) 27–7|
Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Eagles) 6–20
|2005||Carolina Panthers||11–5||Won Wild Card Playoffs (at Giants) 23–0|
Won Divisional Playoffs (at Bears) 29–21
Lost NFC Championship (at Seahawks) 14–34
|2008||Atlanta Falcons||11–5||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Cardinals) 24–30|
|2010||New Orleans Saints||11–5||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Seahawks) 36–41|
|2011||Atlanta Falcons||10–6||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Giants) 2–24|
|2013||New Orleans Saints||11–5||Won Wild Card Playoffs (at Eagles) 26–24 |
Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Seahawks) 15–23
|2017||Carolina Panthers||11–5||Lost Wild Card Playoffs (at Saints) 26–31|
|Atlanta Falcons||10–6||Won Wild Card Playoffs (at Rams) 26–13 |
Lost Divisional Playoffs (at Eagles) 10–15
Total Playoff BerthsEdit
(NFC South records since 2002)
|New Orleans Saints||5||7||1||1|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||3||3||1||1|
|(#)||Denotes team that won the Super Bowl|
|(#)||Denotes team that won the NFC Championship|
|(#)||Denotes team that qualified for the NFL Playoffs|
- a Tampa Bay finished ahead of Carolina based on better division record (5–1 to 4–2).
- b Carolina finished in second place in the NFC South over New Orleans based on a better conference record (7–5 to 6–6).
- c Carolina and New Orleans finished ahead of Tampa Bay in the NFC South based on record versus common opponents (5–5 to 4–6), while Carolina finished in second place based on a head-to-head sweep over New Orleans.
- d Atlanta finished ahead of Tampa Bay based on a better conference record (3–9 to 2–10).
- e New Orleans finished ahead of Carolina based on head-to-head sweep.
|2017||AFC East||NFC North|
|2018||AFC North||NFC East|
|2019||AFC South||NFC West|
|2020||AFC West||NFC North|
|2021||AFC East||NFC East|
|2022||AFC North||NFC West|
|2023||AFC South||NFC North|
|2024||AFC West||NFC East|
|2025||AFC East||NFC West|
|2026||AFC North||NFC North|
|2027||AFC South||NFC East|
|2028||AFC West||NFC West|
- From 2003 to 2009, the team that placed last in the division the previous year would improve enough to reach the playoffs, usually by winning the division. Tampa Bay almost continued this trend in 2010, stopped only by losing a tiebreaker to Green Bay.
- Carolina finished last in 2002 (7–9) and finished first in 2003 (11–5).
- Atlanta finished last in 2003 (5–11) and finished first in 2004 (11–5).
- Tampa Bay finished last in 2004 (5–11) and finished first in 2005 (11–5).
- New Orleans finished last in 2005 (3–13) and finished first in 2006 (10–6).
- Tampa Bay finished last in 2006 (4–12) and finished first in 2007 (9–7).
- Atlanta finished last in 2007 (4–12) and finished second with a wild-card berth in 2008 (11–5).
- New Orleans finished last in 2008 (8–8) and finished first in 2009 (13–3).
- Tampa Bay finished last in 2009 (3–13) but despite finishing third in 2010 with a 10–6 record, did not make the playoffs, due to Green Bay holding the wild-card tiebreakers.
- Carolina finished last in 2010 (2–14) and was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 14 of the 2011 season after going 4–9, becoming the first NFC South team to have a losing season after placing last in the division.
- From 2002 to 2009, no team in the NFC South earned back-to-back playoff appearances. In Week 16 of the 2010 season, New Orleans clinched a wild-card berth, becoming the first NFC South team to earn consecutive playoff appearances. New Orleans earned three consecutive playoff appearances in the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. Atlanta also earned three consecutive playoff appearances, in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and Carolina in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
- Each team has won the division at least three times and made a playoff appearance at least three times since the division's formation. Tampa Bay is the only team which has not made the playoffs as a wild-card.
- Each team has finished last in the division at least twice since the division's formation. Prior to 2012, no team has finished last in the division in consecutive seasons. Tampa Bay became the first team in the division to place last in the division in consecutive seasons, and have recently finished last for the fourth consecutive season.
- The NFC South is the only NFL division where no member team has swept the division during a regular season.
- From 2002 to 2011, there was an outright last place finisher in the division (i.e.: tiebreakers were not necessary to determine who finished last). That streak came to an end during the 2012 season, when Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and Carolina all finished at 7–9. This happened again in 2013, where both Atlanta and Tampa Bay finished 4–12.
- In 2014, Carolina became the first team to defend the NFC South title. No other team in the division has managed to do so until New Orleans defeated Tampa Bay on December 9, 2018 and clinched the division for the second straight season.
- In 2014, Carolina became the second team in NFL history to win its division and advance to the playoffs with a losing record (7–8–1). The first team to accomplish this is the 2010 Seahawks, who won the NFC West with a 7–9 record and beat New Orleans in the Wild Card game.
- With Atlanta winning the 2016–17 NFC Championship, the NFC South became the first division since the 2002 realignment to have all four of its teams represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. (Tampa Bay 2003, Carolina 2004 and 2016, New Orleans 2010, Atlanta 2017).
- In the 2017 NFL season the NFC South had three of its teams qualify for the playoffs (Atlanta, New Orleans, Carolina). It was also the first time where two NFC South teams met in the playoffs, when New Orleans hosted Carolina in the Wild Card playoffs.