Going into week 8 the NFC South is as intriguing as most divisions in the NFL. With the New Orleans Saints being an elite coaching story, the Panthers being a feel-good one, and the Falcons and Buccaneers being entertaining in the process for several reasons. The games that are to be played today, however, could answer questions that may impact the south deep into the season. Let’s get into your Week 8 division report.
Kyle Allen is still the guy
When it was clear Cam Newton needed time off you weren’t in the minority if you expected the Panthers to take a gigantic dip. Instead, they’ve won four straight games under undrafted savior Kyle Allen. Most assumed that whenever Newton was ready to go and healthy his job would be waiting. Allen seems to have other plans.
In the process of playing efficient and mistake-free football, Allen has started a debate about whether Newton’s job is safe once he is ready to return. And believe it or not, that debate truthfully has two sides.
Kyle Allen’s quality of work from under center or the shot gun and the resulting effect on the the run game and pass game, while then factoring in age, health/longevity, and contract situation, helps me see where this Cam/Kyle decision could be headed for Carolina...— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) October 16, 2019
It's bizarre to me the last stretch where we saw Cam Newton healthy, starting off 2018, just gets left off when people start offering up splits in the Kyle Allen debate.— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) October 17, 2019
Cam was on his way to a career year efficiency-wise in this offense with the new weapons before the injury. pic.twitter.com/BA5NbSjgAy
There are several numbers that point to Newton deserving a chance to prove his impact once healthy. A healthy Cam’s early season numbers in 2018 come to mind. Allen’s performance against a stout San Francisco 49ers defense Sunday could give everybody a clearer answer. Saints fans, be happy Drew Brees is your quarterback.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Turnovers and defense
If you want to know the story of the Buccaneers this season, you can firmly take a look at their giveaways offensively, and their lack of stops defensively.
Jameis Winston has been no stranger to turnovers throughout his career, but his mistakes are just the beginning of the Bucs problems. They’ve had injuries to their offensive linemen, star receiver Mike Evans has left several plays on the field, and talented Tight end OJ Howard has been practically a no show. His season continues to be filled with pain in Week 8 as a hamstring injury has him ruled out.
Nightmare season for OJ Howard continues. Picked up a hamstring injury as Bucs come out of bye, in doubt for Sunday. https://t.co/CXajkrwLBH— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) October 24, 2019
Fresh off of a bye, the Buccaneers will hope their defense can pick things. They’ve been putrid so far through six games. The weird factor at play is that the Bucs rank first in yards per game against the run, and last against the pass. Jason Pierre-Paul’s return should help a talented defensive line who got off to a good start, take added pressure off of a very young secondary.
The new-look Ryan Tannehill led Tennessee Titans will be their first test.
When it rains it pours
There’s not much left to be said about the division cellar dweller of the NFC South that hasn’t already been covered. Atlanta has arguably the worst defense in football, with a lack of respectable reinforcements to turn things around.
In week 7, their final hope of salvaging anything in the 2019-20 season was put to rest in a beatdown at home to the LA Rams. Not even the Falcons offense could muster up enough fight to keep them in that one, and that’s where their problems continue.
Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan, who was in a walking boot after today’s loss to the Rams, is scheduled to undergo an MRI on his ankle Monday, but the team does not believe the injury is serious, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 20, 2019
Starting quarterback Matt Ryan’s reported sprained ankle has recently reported to be of the high ankle sprain variety. Ryan has been ruled out for the Falcons week 8 matchup versus the Seattle Seahawks. In what should be expected to be another loss Atlanta will have a plethora of questions about their future in a division that doesn’t appear to be lightening up anytime soon. Falcons fans may not want to hear this, but it may be time for Atlanta to take a page out of the Saints playbook, and not just with the name of their arena.