The Saints keep winning, but so did the second place team in the division. Here’s how the NFC South’s teams played in Week 8.
Coming into Week 8, the last place Atlanta Falcons (3-4) were on their bye week, and the rest of the NFC South was in action. The third place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3) played the Cincinnati Bengals (4-3) in Cincy, and the second place Carolina Panthers (4-2) hosted the Baltimore Ravens (4-3). Then, on Sunday Night Football, the New Orleans Saints (5-1) traveled to Minnesota to face the Vikings (4-2-1), in hopes of seeking redemptions for the Minneapolis Miracle.
After Baltimore jumped out to a quick score, it looked like the Ravens were going to take care of the Panthers on the road. Then Carolina came storming back, scoring 24 unanswered points to go on and win 36-21. The win improved the Panthers to 5-2. In Cincy, Jameis Winston was benched after four interceptions, with the Buccaneers down 18 points, for the return of Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick went full FitzMagic, bringing the Bucs back to a 34-34 tie, but a Randy Bullock field goal as time expired put the Bengals over the edge. The loss dropped the Buccaneers to 3-4.
The Saints, on the back of a couple of turnovers, were able to get the monkey off their back in Minnesota, winning 30-20. The loss kept the Saints with a one game lead over the Panthers, 6-1. Generally, this kept the NFC South in much the same order was in was before Week 8 started, with the only exception that Tampa Bay and Atlanta are now in a statistical tie, with Atlanta on top of the Bucs due to tie-breakers.
Now into Week 9, the entire NFC South is back in action.
The third place Atlanta Falcons will play the Washington Redskins (5-2) in DC. The second place Panthers host the last place Buccaneers. Both of those games are Sunday afternoon. But it’s the Saints matchup that will get all of the attention in the NFC: the Saints host the undefeated Los Angeles Rams Sunday afternoon, in what could prove to be important for playoff seeding in the future.
But the playoffs are a long way out. Let’s just worry about Week 9.