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NFC South: 12 years of existence, no repeat champions

The NFC South either is the picture of parity the NFL tries to maintain with its salary cap structure or a weak division that has lacked a dominant team since its creation in the league’s 2002 realignment.

With Carolina and New Orleans vying for first place, the NFC South again will have a new champion this season. The division has never had a repeat champion.

“It’s a good division. It’s up and down. One year it could be somebody, and one year it could be somebody else,” Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson said. “We bump heads a lot. I guess that kind of hurts us a lot because we bump heads so much.”

All of the other seven divisions have had repeat winners, including five divisions that have had multiple teams repeat as champs.

A win against Atlanta would secure first place for the Panthers and give each of the four NFC South teams three division crowns. That history is in sharp contrast to the AFC East, where the Patriots have won 10 titles, and the AFC South, which the Colts have won eight times.

Rivera said the NFC South is competitive, but doesn’t get the respect it deserves because there hasn’t been a dominant team.

“We all have what we believe is our franchise quarterback. I know Tampa feels very good about (Mike) Glennon,” Rivera said. “Each team has an attacking-style defense. They’ve got play-makers at wide receiver and running back, and tight ends that can make plays.

“So this is going to be a tough division I think for a long time. Hopefully we can continue to compete against each other and people start talking about us being one of the better divisions in the NFL.”

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