Around the NFC South

Obviously, we’ve devoted a lot of Monday night and the wee hours of Tuesday morning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That’s because they were hosting the “Monday Night Football’’ victory over the Indianapolis Colts. But let’s take a look at what’s going on with the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.

Chris Vivlamore notes that the Atlanta secondary faces a tough stretch. After allowing 319 yards to a very mediocre Seattle team (led by quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who is less than mediocre), the Falcons have to take on Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford. The play in the secondary has to get better. Oh, and a little pass rush wouldn’t hurt either.

It appears as if Atlanta running back Jason Snelling will return to practice Wednesday after missing the Seattle game with a concussion.

The Saints have called a news conference for later Tuesday. Reportedly, it’s to announce they have reached an agreement with Mercedes-Benz for naming rights to the Superdome. Nothing wrong with doing what just about everyone else has. The Saints have been peddling the naming rights for a while and had some challenges because the city isn’t home to a lot of huge companies. But it looks like they finally found a deal that will only continue to help their long-term stability in New Orleans.

There might be better individual running backs and combinations of two running backs. But it’s becoming pretty obvious that Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram and Pierre Thomas are the best trio of running backs in the NFL. The Saints are using their varied talents perfectly and getting strong results.

Scott Fowler writes about how Ron Rivera and the Panthers no longer are in the happy-to-be-here mode. They now are talking about how they need to cut down on mistakes and get some more wins. I view this all as positive. It represents the next step for Rivera and the Panthers.

After reviewing the film, Rivera has asked the NFL for an explanation of the offensive pass-interference penalty that nullified tight end Jeremy Shockey’s apparent touchdown catch against the Bears.