Coming into Week 12, the 3rd and 4th place teams in the NFC South, the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers respectively, faced each other in Atlanta. The 2nd place Carolina Panthers travelled to Jersey to face the New York Jets while the 1st place New Orleans Saints were clinging to a one-game lead in Los Angeles to face the Rams.
So what happened in Week 12?
It was exactly the opposite of how Saints fans wanted the week to turn out. The Atlanta Falcons pulled away late against the Buccaneers for a final score of 20-34, with the Falcons improving to 7-4 and dropping the Bucs to 4-7. The Panthers held on late on big plays from their defense and special teams, beating the Jets on the road 35-27, to improve to 8-3. After the Saints lost to the Rams 20-26, they now evened their record with Carolina at 8-3, holding the edge in first place based on tie-breakers.
Next week, the Saints face what is easily their most important game of the season to date. The Saints host the Carolina Panthers Sunday afternoon, with first place in the division hanging in the balance. The Atlanta Falcons won’t have it much easier, hosting the Minnesota Vikings at noon CST. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on the other hand, get to face the Green Bay Packers who will once again be without Aaron Rodgers.
The win streak might be over, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start another one. Win, and let the rest of the division take care of itself. #BeatthePanthers