Smith puts NFC South in a nutshell

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

For a good month at least, NFC South coaches have been getting asked about the strength of the division and why teams have been so good at home. John Fox, Sean Payton and Jon Gruden have given the typical answers you'd expect from a football coach over and over again.

But Atlanta's Mike Smith just hit one out of the park with a thought-out answer that pretty much captures the essence of the NFC South.

"I think that, from top to bottom, this is the toughest division in the NFL," Smith said in a conference call with the New Orleans media. "I think all four teams are very explosive, very well-coached teams and I think that there are a lot of natural rivalries. I wasn't aware of the rivalries when I first arrived here, but having gone through the sequencing of the games, you can see that there are some natural rivalries, based on the geographic locations of the teams. I know that all the fans in our division are very educated and passionate fans and that's a big advantage when you're playing at home because your fans understand the game of football. They know when to cheer and when not to cheer and I think that has a lot to do with the record at home within the division."