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Team identities: NFC South

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Four weeks of the season is enough time to get a read on what each team is known for. Around The NFL will look at the identity for all 32 teams after the first month of the season.

Panthers' defense from 2013 has vanished


Carolina's edgy defense from last season has fallen off a cliff: After allowing just 10.5 points per game in their first two tilts, the Panthers have been lashed for an average of 37.5 points in losses to the Steelers and Ravens. Those two defeats also saw Luke Kuechly and friends allow a whopping 195.5 yards per game on the ground while generating just one sack and no takeaways. That won't cut it against an upcoming slate that includes the Bears, Bengals, Packers, Seahawks, Saints, Eagles and Falcons.

Falcons not the same away from Georgia Dome


While scoring 37 points against the Saints and dropping 56 on the Bucs at home, Atlanta has averaged just 19 points in its two road losses. This skittish behavior extends to quarterback Matt Ryan, who looks like an MVP candidate inside the Georgia Dome, but sports a 4:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio on the road. Winless in his last eight starts outdoors, Ryan and the Falcons must prove that Atlanta's offense -- so explosive indoors -- can produce in unfriendly environments.

Josh McCown signing off to rocky start


Outside of Sunday's frisky road win in Pittsburgh, the Bucs have been a corpse on offense. Scoring 17 or fewer points in three of four games, Tampa ranks dead last in passing yardage while leading the league in turnovers. Count me among those who felt like Mike Glennon should have started over Josh McCown from Day 1. I like Glennon's strong arm in an offense with plenty of tall targets to throw to. If he can build off a solid second half against the Steelers, there's hope yet for Lovie and the boys.

Saints' defense gives up big plays


Sean Payton and Drew Brees will iron out the issues on offense. Rob Ryan's defense, though, has us concerned. This year's unit is generating fewer sacks, giving up a mountain of yardage and has just one takeaway all season. The Saints have allowed 67 plays of 10-plus yards -- only the Jaguars (70) have been worse. In short, my Super Bowl pick has a lot of work to do.

The latest Around The NFL Podcast previews "Thursday Night Football" and discusses the biggest surprises in the season's first quarter. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL Now.

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