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Repeat or Shuffle? Saints Quest For Back to Back Division Titles

Division champions. That is probably the third best title there is in the league behind conference champs and the obvious Super Bowl champions. The Saints are sitting pretty at the moment in the NFC South with a four game lead over the Carolina Panthers. With a win on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they would clinch the division crown for a second straight year and also achieve an even more rare accomplishment. It would mark only the second time since the alignment change in 2002 that a team has repeated as division winners. The Panthers are the only team to do so, winning three straight titles from 2013-2015.

For the Saints, taking the division is only the first step in reaching the Super Bowl this year. Trying to earn the #1 seed and home field advantage is the next one but it will take a lot in the last four weeks of the season. They are currently the 2nd seed behind the Los Angeles Rams and virtually would have to win out and pray the Rams fall once or twice before it is all said and done. However, repeating as division champs is also something that needs to be cherished. As it stand of now, the NFC South, NFC East and AFC East are the only divisions to have a single repeat champion. That is some pretty stiff competition.

Nonetheless, the NFC South is by far the toughest division in the NFL. It was the last division to have a back to back winner and it took until 2014 to do so. Almost every year, there is no guarantee of who will come out on top at season’s end. It seems like every time you look, at some point during a season, any team could take it at any given point. This is how the division title has fared since 2002:

2002 – Buccaneers

2003 – Panthers

2004 – Falcons

2005 – Buccaneers

2006 – Saints

2007 – Buccaneers

2008 – Panthers

2009 – Saints

2010 – Falcons

2011 – Saints

2012 – Falcons

2013 – Panthers

2014 – Panthers

2015 – Panthers

2016 – Falcons

2017 – Saints

Basically, it is like a game of musical chairs. The facts are there to lay claim to the most competitive division in football. No other division has had every team play in a Super Bowl since the new alignment. Also, it is the only division to have each team win three times or more. Need I say more? The Saints have always had their work cut out for them when it comes to playing these guys twice a year. It is practically guaranteed that no matter the record or talent, it will be a battle to the end. We saw that at the beginning of this year and with 3 of the last 4 against division foes, it is going to be a wild ride to finish the season.