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NFC South after Week 12: A division crown is in sight

Clinching scenarios are close for the Saints.

Atlanta Falcons v New Orleans Saints Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The Saints just keep winning, much to the chagrin of the rest of the division. The Saints have a chance to clinch the NFC South title for the second year in a row next week, all thanks to a solid Week 12. Here’s how it all happened:

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into Week 12, the entire NFC South was back in action. The first place New Orleans Saints (9-1) hosted the third place Atlanta Falcons (4-6) on Thursday Night Football. On Sunday, the second place Carolina Panthers (6-4) hosted Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks (5-5) while the last place Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-7) hosted another NFC West team, the San Francisco 49ers (2-8).

The New Orleans Saints took care of business against the Atlanta Falcons, to extend their winning streak to ten games. The 31-17 loss dropped the Falcons to 4-7 and eliminated them from a division title. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to beat the 49ers 27-9 to improve to 4-7, and technically keep their playoff hopes alive in a wild NFC wildcard chase. The team chasing the Saints for the division, the Carolina Panthers, weren’t able to get it done against the Seahawks, losing on a last second field goal, 30-27. The loss - Carolina’s third in a row - dropped the Panthers to 6-5.

Dallas Cowboys v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Now into Week 13, the Saints are in a position to clinch the NFC South.

The Saints play their second Thursday Night Football game in a row, this time on the road against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (6-5). The Atlanta Falcons host the Baltimore Ravens (6-5), but that game is largely unimportant for the divisional race. The Carolina Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers play each other in Tampa Bay, in the only other game that matters.

If the Saints win and then the Buccaneers beat the Panthers Sunday at noon CST, the Saints will officially be NFC South Champs once again.

But first things first: