Final Word: NFC South

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Posted by ESPN.com’s Pat Yasinskas

Five nuggets of knowledge about this weekend’s games:

Back on “The (front) Burner.’’ Did the Falcons wear out running back Michael Turner with 376 carries last season? Turner hasn’t looked sharp this season. But he’s coming off a bye and should be fresh. The Falcons also have had a week to clean up their play on the offensive line. They know they’re 9-0 in games in which they’ve had a 100-yard rusher since coach Mike Smith took over last year, and they’re intent on re-establishing the ground game.

History doesn’t always repeat itself. It appears as if quarterback Donovan McNabb will be back in the lineup for Philadelphia after a rib injury. McNabb’s track record as a passer against Tampa Bay is worse than any other NFC team. But don’t read too much into that. This isn’t the same Tampa Bay defense that has given McNabb problems through much of his career.

Redskins rivalry. As bad as the Carolina-Washington game looks based on what the teams have done this season, this still is a good rivalry. North Carolina was Redskins territory before the Panthers came along, and a lot of fans still hold allegiances to the Redskins. Plus, Carolina general manager Marty Hurney is a former Redskins employee (and a prideful and competitive one at that) and owner Jerry Richardson isn’t a big fan of Washington owner Daniel Snyder. Richardson once publicly referred to Snyder as “my little friend.’.

T-Jack is back. Safety Tanard Jackson returns from a four-game suspension. That’s going to be a big lift for a Tampa Bay secondary that has had more than its share of problems. Jackson is the team’s best defensive back and his presence should help stabilize things a bit.

Maybe it’s not over yet. With good reason, a lot of people are down on the Panthers. I can see at least one possible positive scenario. If this team has anything left, getting to 3-3 isn’t out of the question. After the Redskins, the Panthers face Tampa Bay and Buffalo. But I don’t know whether this team has anything left.