Coming into Week 15, the first place New Orleans Saints had what looked to be an easy easy week against the New York Jets at home in New Orleans. The Atlanta Falcons, one game behind the Saints, likewise looked to have an easy matchup, facing the division rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the road in Tampa. The Carolina Panthers, with the same record as the Saints, on the other hand, had a challenge in the returning Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
So what happened in Week 15?
Everything stayed the same for the most part. The Saints pulled away late to beat the Jets 17-31. But with the Panthers able to hold on for the win against the Packers 24-31, both teams improved to 10-4. The Falcons, who have the NFL’s best 3rd down offense, facing the Bucs, who have the NFL’s worst defense in most statistically categories, squeaked out with a win when a game-tying field goal by Tampa Bay flew wide right. This keeps the Falcons, now 9-5, one game behind the Saints and firmly in control of their own destiny.
Next week, it’s the Panthers turn to face the Buccaneers at home, and the Panthers will surely be checking in on the score of the other divisional game when the can. That’s because that other divisional game is a rematch between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, this time at home in the Dome for New Orleans. The team that wins this game is in the driver’s seat for the division.
This is the part of the piece where I usually end with a hashtag like “#BeattheJets.” I’ll keep the pound symbol in place, but this week deserves something a little bit different: