Coming into Week 7, the last place 1-5 Panthers had a Bye. The first place 4-2 Falcons played at home against the 3-3 Chargers. The Saints and Bucs were both 2-3, with the Saints playing on the road against the 3-2 Chiefs and the Bucs facing off against the 1-5 San Francisco 49ers in Southern California.
So what happened in Week 7?
To no surprise, Tampa Bay was able to beat the dumper fire of a football team in San Francisco, 34-17. If the Saints could upset the Chiefs, they would be able to keep pace with the Bucs for second place. Alas, though, it was not to be. The Saints lost a close game against the Chiefs 27-21. This meant the Bucs improved to 3-3, taking sole possession of second place, with the Saints dropping to 2-4, in third place.
Thankfully, the Falcons did their part to keep the NFC South wide open. The Falcons lost in overtime to the San Diego Chargers (a team the Saints beat earlier this season), staying in first place, but their record now at 4-3. So while the Bucs moved ahead of the Saints in the standings (keep in mind the Saints and Bucs have yet to play either of their two match-ups this season), they did not lose any ground in the hunt for first.
Next week, the last place Panthers come out of their Bye to host the Arizona Cardinals. With the Panthers secondary in a mess still, we can hope QB Carson Palmer will be able to torch the Carolina defense. Jimmy Graham makes his return to the Super Dome as the Seahawks play in NOLA, while the first place Oakland Raiders travel to Florida to face Tampa Bay and the Falcons host Green Bay.
It will be a tough week all around for the NFC South next week. All four games could possibly result in a loss, but if the Saints are able to beat the (most likely favored) Seahawks at home, they might be able to gain ground on the rest of the division.
Win, and let’s let the rest of the division take care of itself. #BeattheSeahawks