Hitting the NFC South links

ATLANTA -- We’re just about seven hours from kickoff for tonight’s game between the Falcons and Packers. NFC North colleague Kevin Seifert and I will begin our trek to the Georgia Dome in a couple of hours, and the snow and ice are thawing nicely on a sunny day in Atlanta.

But, as we wait for tonight’s playoff game, let’s take a look at some headlines from around the NFC South.

Jay Gruden reportedly could be headed for Carolina’s coaching staff. Gruden, the younger brother of former NFL coach Jon Gruden, has been coaching in the United Football League. He previously worked on his brother’s staff in Tampa Bay and as a coach in the Arena Football League.

D. Orlando Ledbetter has a list of things that could go right for the Falcons tonight and a list of things that could go wrong.

Jason Wilde has his keys to the game from a Green Bay point of view.

Steve Reed reports the Panthers are expected to retain defensive coordinator Ron Meeks, although he likely will become a position coach.

Charlie Campbell has his first mock draft and it follows logic on the NFC South picks. He has the Panthers taking defensive tackle Nick Fairley with the No. 1 overall pick. He has the Bucs taking defensive end Adrian Clayborn, which would fill a huge need. He has New Orleans taking offensive tackle Derek Sherrod and the Falcons settling for a cornerback after a run on defensive ends, which looks to be their top position of need.

Mike Triplett has a detailed analysis of the contract issues the Saints face this offseason.