Nathan Hards is The Rookie Fan, a newbie to the NFL. RealSport will be following Nathan as he makes the most difficult decision any rookie NFL fan has to make – which team to support!
N.B.: In order to be “fair” to all teams, Nathan is generally only looking at teams’ success since 2002, when the Texans joined the league Having swept through the AFC, we now drop over to the next conference, and what better place to start, than the NFC south. Let’s jump straight in with the surprise leaders for this season.
Can we take a moment to appreciate that the Carolina panthers are 9-0 so far this season? Halfway through the season, and they’re undefeated. That’s alongside the Patriots. Carolina are having a fantastic season so far, and they are hungry for their first Super Bowl. This could well be their season.
There’s a lot of support growing for the Panthers, and they are giving their fans exactly what they want this season. If you’re looking for a strong team to pick, the Panthers are looking the strongest they have ever been. This is where they fall down, as they have only got to the Super Bowl once in the last 15 years. This season could well just be a blip on the radar, as much as it could be a sign of a new outlook for Carolina. Only the rest of the season will tell, but be careful about jumping on bandwagons.
The Atlanta Falcons are a safe bet. Not a big team on the franchise front, but by no means a bottom feeder, or a new fish. The Falcons go back to 1966 in Atlanta, and have pulled some decent results out of the bag over these years. In the last fifteen they have won their division twice, which isn’t something to shout about, but it’s better than nothing. If you’re looking for a team that people won’t really question you on, then it’s the Falcons. Most people forget the Falcons when they are listing teams. It’s not because they’re new, or because they’re boring. People remember the Texans, and the Browns, and the Ravens. The reason for this? Atlanta are vanilla, they’re easily forgettable. They don’t have the fire of some teams, or the attitude of others, and in comparison to these teams they fade into the background. They’re a capable team, but that’s where the story ends, they’re good enough.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints have been on the scene since 1967. Serving the great city of New Orleans with some decent results in all of that time. In the last fifteen, the have pulled in a Super Bowl, and another division title. They got on board when New Orleans was hit by Hurrican Katrina, and supported the local community through the disaster, with some players even giving up a substantial amount of their own pay-checks to help those worst affected. These are good guys, invested in the local community, which is in return, passionate about their team. The defense this year is awful, and as a result, Rob Ryan has been fired as the defensive coordinator. It’s 4-6 so far, and unless the defence can really start changing it up, you’re looking at a losing season. The offense aren’t exactly lighting up the field, with the exception of the offensive line, it’s all pretty dull out there. Unfortunately it looks like the Saints are sleepwalking through this season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There is only one thing I feel necessary to mention at this stage with the Bucs. They have a pirate ship in their stadium, with working cannons. It fires the cannons for each point that the team scores. That’s right, I am not kidding. Google it if you don’t believe me. An actual pirate ship, with a parrot, which hassles people pre-game. It actually trash talks people in the crowd, before the game, and then they fire cannons for every point they score. On a pirate ship. An actual pirate ship. I think I’ve made my point. The Bucs fans get a hard time. Their team is actually quite capable on paper, but they don’t get taken seriously in the league. In fairness, they do have a pirate ship in their stadium (did I mention that?), so you will get trash talked by a fair few other supporters about how stupid your team is. However the Bucs are one of only ten teams to carry a Super Bowl home in the last fifteen years, so that should shut up most other supporters.
So there we have it, the NFC South in a nutshell. Two boring teams, a ridiculous team, and a surprising team. Who do we pick? The Panthers are undeniably lighting up the season this year, but I don’t want to be accused of jumping on the bandwagon, so I’m going to have to give them a miss, even though I really like the look of Carolina as a team. Atlanta just don’t light any fires for me. They’re good, but then so is pasta. I want my football to be exciting, and tumultuous, like going out on a bender with your mate that always gets into arguments. The Saints definitely ticked the boxes for me when it came to being involved in the local community, and not being rich ignorant numpties, but they just don’t catch my interest. I’m going to pick the Bucs. I know a couple of people that will love this, but I’m not putting them through because of that. I really want to see if I can dig into the team behind the flair and the showmanship, and get at the core of what makes people really support the Buccaneers. Next article, we’re covering NFC North, picking between the Vikings, Packers, Bears, and Lions. See you there!