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The NFC South reaches a new low

The NFC South has only been around since 2002, but they've already accomplished something few divisions can ever hope to achieve. Buffalo's red zone troubles, Chicago's missing defense and more go under the knife in this week's Post-Mortem.

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It took a 14-point comeback in the fourth quarter for the Chiefs to beat Buffalo, but the opportunity wouldn't have arisen had the Bills been able to make red zone possessions count for anything. The four trips Buffalo made inside the Kansas City 20 yielded the following: field goal, fumble out of the back of the end zone, field goal, turnover on downs. That drops the Bills to a 39 percent touchdown conversion rate in the red zone this year, worst in the league and especially disappointing when you consider they're seventh in red zone possessions.


For the first time since the NFL realigned in 2002 and created the NFC South, we're through Week 10 without a single team in the division reaching five wins. The collective win percentage put up by the Bucs, Panthers, Saints, and Falcons is astoundingly low.

And that percentage includes 12 intradivision games; take away the .500 bump from those and the winning percentage drops down below .230. There have certainly been other frighteningly bad divisions before; Seattle won the NFC West at 7-9 just four years ago, after all. But even that awful division had a winning percentage of .417 through Week 10.


The Bears gave up 358 yards and six touchdowns in the first half of their blowout loss to Green Bay. You already know it wasn't a great performance, but let's look at the first half statistics of a few other teams to see just how bad it was.

Patient A: 452 yards, two touchdowns
Patient B: 533 yards, four touchdowns
Patient C: 563 yards, two touchdowns

In that context, Chicago's struggles don't seem so unusual, and things appear even brighter when you learn who our mystery patients are. Patient A is the Dallas Cowboys, B is the Denver Broncos, and C is the New England Patriots.

Unfortunately, those are their defensive numbers in the first half for all of the games those teams played in the month of October.


St. Louis was held scoreless in the second half against the Cardinals, but it would only be partially true to call the Rams incapable of producing points after halftime. Yes, they're 31st in the league in offensive touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters this year with five. But they're first overall in offensive plays that turn into defensive touchdowns in the second half with six.

So it's not that the Rams can't generate touchdowns in the final 30 minutes. They just aren't the kind that help them.


- Entering Week 10, the Jets had one of the worst first half offenses in the NFL: 31st in yards per play (4.6), 30th in turnovers given up (10), and 18th in offensive touchdowns (9). Before halftime against the Steelers, they averaged 6.5 yards per play, got in the end zone twice, and didn't turn the ball over once.

- The premature end of Carson Palmer's season may have left Arizona fans disheartened, but it's worth noting that no team in the 16-game season era has won 8 games by Week 10 and missed the playoffs.

- Seattle put up the 13th 350-yard team rushing day since 1970 (excluding overtime games) and only the eighth that didn't require 50 carries or more to get there. The Seahawks had a whopping 29 rushing attempts that gained at least five yards; the rest of the NFC West combined for 19 this week.


- Jacksonville's on pace to finish with a point differential of minus-198. Last year's team finished at -202, which means the Jaguars are awfully close to joining the '72-'73 Oilers, '99-'00 Browns, '08-'09 Rams and '08-'09 Lions as the only teams to get outscored by 200 points in consecutive seasons.

- Every team since the NFL went to a 16-game schedule has finished with two basic rushing statistics: at least 300 rushing attempts and at least 1000 team rushing yards. Based on their numbers through Week 10, the Raiders would finish with 293 attempts for 993 yards.

- The lowest scoring team through ten weeks? The Tennessee Titans, who've only put up 144 points in nine games. That pace would give them 256 this season, the fewest they've scored since their 1994 season in Houston.