I had a conversation this afternoon with high-ranking official from an NFC South team -- I can’t reveal the source, and you’ll understand why in a minute, and we are not talking the New Orleans Saints here.
“You know, I get a little sick of hearing so much about the NFC East,’’ the official said. “Do me a favor and look up how many teams we’ve had in the NFC Championship Game. I bet it’s more than the NFC East.’’
I looked it up and he’s right. Since the NFL went to its current division format in 2002, the NFC South has sent six teams to the NFC Championship Game, including the Saints this season. The NFC East has sent five -- and let's include a shout-out to our friends in Dallas: The Cowboys represent zero in that equation -- with four trips by Philadelphia and one by the Giants.
Yep, the NFC South has sent a team to six of the eight championship games since the division has come into existence, including each of the first five seasons. Tampa Bay won the NFC Championship Game on its way to the division’s only Super Bowl title in the 2002 season and Carolina won it a year later before losing to New England in the Super Bowl.
Atlanta, Carolina and New Orleans followed that up the next three years, but didn’t make it past the NFC title game.
For the record, in that same span, the NFC North, including the Vikings this year, has sent three teams to the title game. The NFC West has sent two.