World Cup 2014 coverage:

NFL 2013: NFC South Midseason Report Card

Yahoo Contributor Network

Every team in the National Football League has now played at least eight games this season.

Hence let's take a look at each club in the NFL and how they've performed at the halfway point (or slightly more in some instances).

We'll take some time this week to see what each team has done well this season, what improvement(s) need to be made and assign a grade to each club based on performance and combined with expectations. And to make things easy, we will do it on a divisional basis.

After a look at the AFC East and AFC North, it's time to check out the NFC South.

And feel free to give out your own grade(s) as well…

New Orleans Saints (6-2)

Nice Work: Isn't it amazing what having a head coach can do? For those who think Sean Payton would be rusty after a year away from the sidelines, think again. The Saints are one victory away from matching last season's win total of seven and their success to date has been the combination of steady quarterback Drew Brees and an improved defensive unit that still has some shortcomings but has come up big more times than not…

Needs Work: The lack of a ground game remains an issue that has come back to bite the Saints in more ways than one. Brees has thrown 21 touchdown passes this season but has also been sacked 20 times. Payton's team is seventh in the league in total offense but just 26th in rushing--which may also explain in some way the Saints' own inability to consistently stop the run…

Grade: A-

Carolina Panthers (5-3)

Nice Work: While a lot of attention has gone to the Kansas City Chiefs and an undefeated team that has limited each of its opponents to 17 points or less, Ron Rivera's team has not been too shabby itself. The Panthers have allowed the third-fewest yards per game in the NFL, rank second in run defense and have given up only nine touchdowns in eight games, including just one in the first half…

Needs Work: Right now, everything seems to be clicking for Ron Rivera's club as the Panthers have won four straight, including a pair of divisional victories this season. But it's interesting to note that Carolina has scored 30 or more points in five victories in 2013 and a combined 36 points in their losses to the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills and Arizona Cardinals. That bears some watching considering some of the better defensive teams such as the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets remaining on their schedule…

Grade: A-

Atlanta Falcons (2-6)

Nice Work: This is supposed to be veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez's latest last season. Regardless, the NFL's second-leading pass-catcher of all time shows absolutely no signs of slowing down, even with teammates Roddy White and Julio Jones sidelined. Gonzalez has totaled 44 catches, is averaging 10.8 yards per reception and has scored four touchdowns this season…

Needs Work: During the offseason the Falcons were hoping to address their lack of a pass rush and improve their running game. They signed a pair of veterans in defensive end Osi Umenyiora and running back Steven Jackson, although the latter has missed some time. The former has 4.5 of the team's 18 sacks this season. Meanwhile, the Falcons have rushed for 515 yards in eight games, a total topped by 12 players to date in 2013…

Grade: D+

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-8)

Nice Work: Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon has thrown five touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last three games and looks more comfortable on a weekly basis. And another newcomer, sixth-round pick Mike James, has done his best filling in for injured starter Doug Martin. On Sunday vs. the Seattle Seahawks, the former Miami Hurricane rushed for 158 yards and also threw a touchdown pass in the team's overtime loss…

Needs Work: From the debacle surrounding one-time starting quarterback Josh Freeman to last week's squandering of a 21-0 lead at Seattle, it appears (and who really knows) to be all over but the shouting for head coach Greg Schiano as the team now owns a 1-13 record in its last 14 outings following last season's 6-4 start. Conventional wisdom says there's simply too much talent here and the failure to get positive results is indeed perplexing…

Grade: F

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Football
View Comments