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State of the NFC South Week Eight

A look around a New Orleans Saints leading division, that has several stories behind each record.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Chicago Bears Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Carolina Panthers

Record: 4-2

Kyle Allen is still the guy

NFL International Series-Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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

Record: 2-4

Turnovers and defense

NFL International Series-Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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.

Atlanta Falcons

Record: 1-6

When it rains it pours

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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.​

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.