Big slap in the face for the NFC South

We touched on this briefly in Thursday’s mailbag on the Atlanta Falcons. But I think it’s worth looking at this again. That’s mainly because, after talking to a lot of different people with the Falcons and Buccaneers, they are seeing red.

Way too much of it. Let’s look over at the506.com, a website that does a great job showing which NFL games will be televised in which markets across the country. Look at the map for the late-afternoon time slot and you’ll see red, too.

Red’s the color that’s used to depict where the game between Dallas and Indianapolis will be shown. Just looking quickly at the map, I’m estimating the Cowboys and Colts will be seen in 80 to 90 percent of the country.

Now, look for the blue -- you may have to squint. The areas in blue are where the game between the Falcons and Buccaneers will be shown.

Basically, Tampa Bay and Atlanta will air in Georgia and large parts of Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana. We all know about the local television blackouts Tampa Bay has faced all season, the game will be shown in Florida only down in the Naples area.

So what’s wrong with this picture? And why is the brass with the Falcons and the Buccaneers upset about it?

Well, it’s pretty obvious. Dallas is not a very good team and Indianapolis is struggling, at least by its own standards, this season. Yet the NFL and Fox television have elected to show the Cowboys and Colts to most of the country in this time slot. I guess chaos and Peyton Manning sell and a game between two good teams with all sorts of playoff indications doesn’t matter.

That’s more than a little bit of a shame. I often get letters from fans talking about how the NFC South doesn’t get enough “respect’’ on a national level. I usually prefer to use the word “attention." But, in this case, I’ll go with respect and attention.

The slight of Tampa Bay and Atlanta this week is blatant and it shows a lack of respect and attention for the NFC South. At least on paper, the Buccaneers against Falcons is the best game in this time slot.

Too bad most of America won’t get to see it.