Final Word: NFC South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:

Throwbacks bring good luck: Team marketing departments love throwback uniforms because they create more merchandise to sell. Some coaches also love the throwback uniforms because they believe they bring good luck, and coaches are a superstitious group. Count Atlanta’s Mike Smith among them. The Falcons will wear their throwback uniforms Sunday against Carolina. The Falcons started wearing throwback uniforms (red helmets, black jerseys and white pants) in 2009 and are 5-1 in those outfits. They’re scheduled to wear them again in a game Nov. 29 against New Orleans at the Georgia Dome.

Looking at history: The Falcons can tie the franchise record for best start in team history with a win against Carolina. The 1986 and 2004 teams each started 4-0, but each lost its fifth game. If the Falcons win against the Panthers, they’ll have a chance to set a team record when they play at Washington in Week 5.

Chasing the record: There’s a bright spot as the 0-3 New Orleans Saints travel to Lambeau Field to play the Green Bay Packers. If Drew Brees throws a touchdown pass, he’ll tie the NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. The record is 47 by Johnny Unitas from 1956 through 1960. If Brees ties the record Sunday, he’ll have a chance to break it the following week at home against San Diego. You might recall that the Chargers are the team that unceremoniously let Brees go after the 2005 season, and he still carries a chip on his shoulder about that.

Contact coming slowly: We all know that the defense has been a big problem for the Saints. One of the biggest problems is that the Saints haven’t been able to stop runners in the backfield. The Saints have allowed a league-high 477 yards before making first contact with the ball carrier, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Opposing runners are averaging 3.7 yards before a New Orleans defender even touches them.

Run defense much improved: Despite their 1-2 start, the Buccaneers have made some significant improvements. One of them has been the run defense. Tampa Bay is allowing a league-best 2.3 yards per rushing attempt, and that comes after a season in which the Bucs allowed a league worst 156.1 rushing yards per game. The Bucs also are leading the NFL by allowing just 0.95 yards before first contact. Last year, the Bucs allowed 3.04 yards before contact, which ranked No. 31.