First of all, I'll happily confess to nothing next to nothing about the NFC South. I recognize the fact that some of these teams have been rolling along quite nicely the past few years. But these are teams that either didn't exist when I was a kid (Carolina? I still can't believe they have pro franchises there. Have you ever been there?) or were jokes for decades and decades--Tampa Bay won a Super Bowl and world didn't end. Shocking. But this in my mind, fairly or no, is kind of a joke division. But when I hit upon this premise, I knew there were going to be divisions that weren't as much fun to do. Still we struggle on, because we have no other option. On that melodramatic and existentialist note, let's dig in, shall we?
Carolina Panthers: There's a lot of potential here. Jake Delhomme is like Pierce Brosnan to Brett Favre's Sean Connery. Maybe not as fun and exciting, but still pretty entertaining in his own way. Perhaps he needs more drama in his life to make him a truly compelling Buddy Cop Partner. Why can't he overcome a drug addiction, or have his home ruined by a natural disaster, or his brother-in-law killed by an ATV accident? That would make him far more interesting. And DeShaun Foster is just a non-factor in terms of audience interest. He's an Eric LaSalle. Inoffensive, but not a major draw. 4 stars.
Atlanta Falcons: Is Warwick Dunn getting too old for this shit? He probably is, but he's also coming off of some very exciting seasons, due in part to his backfield co-star, a young, brash partner who's unpredictable, rash and electrifying. Michael Vick is all of that. He's Box Office Gold! Of course, the suits are going to worry that without a white co-star, the audience won't show up. But the Falcons will prove them wrong, especially with the NC-17 version that delves into the exploits of Ron Mexico. The critics may pan it, but the puerile 14 year old in us all will love it. Think Bad Boys + Girls Gone Wild, and you've got the ATL. 9 Stars.
Tampa Bay Bucs: Chris Simms and Cadillac Williams? No old guy getting too old for this shit, which is a crucial component of your typical Buddy Cop movie. This is a troubling sign, but you know, there's no reason that this can't be a success. You've got Chris, who is a good ole boy with an emotionally complex backstory-- the legacy of his father haunting him. There could be a scene with some old coach going on and on about how great Phil was, and then Chris says, "I'm not my father!" and the old coach squints at him, spits a hunk of tobacco, shakes his head, and says, "No. I guess you're not. I guess you're not" Always a great scene. And you know, if you go by the name Cadillac, you must be bringing some serious charisma to the table; otherwise, you simply aren't getting through life with that nickname. These guys are way too different to get along effectively! Or are they? Potentially as entertaining as Shanghai Noon. 7 stars, with potential to go to 9 stars if Cadillac starts riffing ala Clinton Portis or Owen Wilson.
New Orleans Saints: Well who knows? Certainly Reggie Bush and Drew Brees have some serious potential here. But you know, I think we'd better wait for the previews on this one. Sometimes, you take two guys, at the height of their abilities, and you still end up with Tango and Cash. We're withholding judgement until the movie actually opens. You can't ever trust the advance publicity, ever. A probationary 6 stars.