Shutdown Corner - NFL

For the second time this season, the NFC South failed to capitalize on a weak showing by the NFC East. Atlanta's home loss to Denver keeps the South stuck in the No. 2 slot, but with three of the four teams in the East struggling, we might have a new leader atop these rankings for the first time soon.

You know the drill; cumulative non-division team records in parenthesis.

1) NFC East (19-6-1) -- Ed Hochuli doesn't know what all the fuss is about; he wasn't aware that games could end in ties either.

New-fangled tie rules notwithstanding, it's time to face three incontrovertible facts about the NFC East: 1) Dallas isn't that good. 2) Washington isn't that good. 3) Philadelphia isn't that good. Oh, each are capable of putting together a run and advancing deep into the playoffs. But they're equally capable of ending the year with a 7-9 record. Or, in the case of the Eagles a 6-8-1 mark. That extra number at the end there could refer either to the amount of Philly ties, or how many months it will be until Andy Reid gets fired.

2) NFC South (18-6) -- The NFC South plays the NFC North and AFC West in their common out-of-division games this year. Apparently Jim Boeheim has been scheduling the South's schedule. (Speaking of Boeheim, now is as good a time as any to check out Yahoo! Sports' spectacular college basketball blog, The Dagger. It's all the goodness of Shutdown Corner with the added bonus of Eamonn Brennan sending it in, Jerome-style.)

3) AFC South (15-9) -- On ESPN Radio this Sunday, I heard a five-minute segment in which Eric Allen insisted that the Titans needed to get Vince Young involved in their offense. Because, presumably, instead of being 10-0, Tennessee could have 15 wins and negative-five losses if they got VY some touches.

4) AFC East (17-9) -- Can we please stop comparing that wide-right miss to the one from the Super Bowl? That one would have won a championship. This one would have won a home game in November against the lowly Browns. That game featured the mustachioed splendor of Jeff Hostetler at quarterback. This game featured the Flock of Seagulls-inspired coif of Brady Quinn. Like I said, no comparison.

5) AFC North (11-14-1) -- In his weekly diatribe on, Gregg Doyel ranted this week about how the overtime rules in the NFL need to be changed. (No, they don't. Play some defense.) It included this line:

Only in the NFL can something as valuable as victory come down to something as frivolous as the flip of a coin. Heads? Tails? Choose wisely, because it can -- and nearly 50 percent of the time, it will -- be the difference between winning and losing.

After reading that, Donovan McNabb was all, "Wait, wait wait ... what's this about a coin flip?"

6) NFC North (7-17) -- This year's Bears, Packers and Vikings -- the top three teams in the NFC North -- are like Tom Petty songs. They're not bad, per se, they're just not very good either. And they all sort of sound (or, in this case, look) the same. As for the Lions, they're the James Taylor of this analogy.

7) AFC West (7-21) -- What's most amusing about the Chargers' struggles this year is that they fired Marty Schottenheimer after a 14-2 season two years ago.

8) NFC West (6-18) --  Don't start ignoring the Rams just yet; not while they're at history's doorstep. St. Louis is flirting with the possibility of becoming just the third team in 35 years to finish the season with the fewest points scored and the most points allowed in the NFL. (They have given up the most points, by far, in the league. But, Cincinnati and Oakland have scored six and 16 fewer points, respectively.) Do you think ESPN will give this pursuit of imperfection its own section on the ticker? (By the way, the only other two teams to pull of this feat since 1973 both played in the NFC West: Atlanta in 1987 and Arizona in 2003.)

Photo: Getty Images

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