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Week 11: State of the NFC South - Brees has fallen, but the division won’t wait

The Saints will be without their prized QB, but we know they’re battle tested for this situation.

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NFC South has seen a tornado of QB rotations between 2019 and 2020. We were gifted with Tom Brady entering the division upon his exit from Belichick’s kingdom. The Carolina Panthers were awarded Teddy Bridgewater, who started for the New Orleans Saints last year. Now, in Week 11 of 2020, it appears the former Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could be starting for the Saints against the Atlanta Falcons.

Well, we all know the backstory of this situation—Drew Brees got buried by 49ers defensive lineman Kentavius Street into the ground and Brees didn’t return in the 2nd half (upon finishing the 2-minute drive). It was reported on Monday that he suffered a punctured lung and multiple broken ribs.

Drew Brees may be the biggest name to ever compete in the NFC South. His career is likely a playoff push from over, but we’re seeing Brees on his last legs. Best case scenario-Brees returns after 3-4 games and he eases into it. Worst case scenario-Brees returns in the wild-card round on a team that could be competing over that weekend and he’s rusty in a Saints road game. This injury isn’t awful with some players, but it’s happening to a 41-year old QB at Week 11 of the year. It’s not good.

I won’t let the Brees storyline steal all the magic from the NFC South. There’s much more speculation with the Saints, Buccnaeers, and there’s even drama unfolding for Carolina and Atlanta. Let’s dive into it!

New Orleans Saints

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Saints might resemble the definition of a 2020 NFL team. At first, Michael Thomas was injured. Then he faced disciplinary issues. It’s just safe to say the Saints haven’t gotten any production from Michael Thomas on the season. The other big name WR-Emmanuel Sanders landed on the COVID list and missed a couple of games. The lone ranger-Alvin Kamara has actually been healthy and playing on par with his new contract and expectations.

It appeared the Saints were finally getting in sync with each other and they were looking like a team that improved from their 13-3 record in 2019 in their blowout win against Tom Brady. Then boom. Drew Brees gets injured on a serious level. Now the QB situation is a mystery. Regardless of the Saints QB situation, their floor is likely going .500 down the stretch. Well, why? Let’s see their future match-ups.

They get a date with the Falcons in Week 11. That’s an opponent that split games with them in 2019. Then they get a game with the Broncos a week after that, then another game with Atlanta. When Brees left the 49ers game, it appeared the Saints probably could’ve mopped up without Kamara and Thomas, too. This is a team that beat Chicago without their starting secondary and a team that went 5-0 without Brees last year. There’s not serious reason to panic with the Saints schedule. They just can’t turn the ball over on offense or blow coverages on defense. Fingers crossed.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers didn’t make every game picker and betting analyst proud in Week 10. Thankfully, the Buccaneers made sense in Week 11. They were on fire, in sync, and playing complementary football. They put up a season-high 46 points and they even got Antonio Brown in the mix.

Speaking of Antonio Brown—there appears to be more drama with the former All-Pro WR. There’s newly released security footage of him destroying a security camera. I believe the whole thing is a mess. I’m not sure what the pros and cons of destroying simple property after everything he’s gone through. It’s not well. Brown is appeared to be in the clear, but if dramatic responses are made, it would be just another locker room distraction with AB.

As for all of Brady’s bunch outlook, they have a battled test road ahead. They play the Rams on Monday Night Football, then they have to play the Chiefs in Week 12. If they thought the Saints pass rush was fercious, they will have their hands full with Aaron Donald. If they thought Drew Brees was lethal, they won’t be able to stop Mahomes. Even with Brees being injured, they can’t afford to lose again over the next two weeks-they are already a game back out of first place.

Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Denver Broncos at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

If there was ever a team to start out winless, then decide to oust a winning record down the stretch to ruin a Top-10 draft and still miss the playoffs, it would be the 2020 Falcons. All jokes aside, the Falcons have looked much sharper since their early season blunder. They have now won three out of their last four games.

If Falcons wanted a sprinkle of more hope, they would say: Well it would be great to not play Drew Brees in two games coming up. Wish granted. The thing going for the Falcons, is that they won’t be facing the future hall of fame QB Drew Brees, who’s also a 99 overall in 2-minute drives.

Even though Saints fans know all of their weapons, it’s a tad more optimistic for Falcons nation to know their offense is at full-strength. If the Falcons can get a quick strike on the Saints average secondary, it may force the Saints to go blow for blow with their QB2. This upcoming match-up is likely their Super Bowl.

Carolina Panthers

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s looking like Carolina got their door shut by Tampa Bay on playoff aspirations. They lost 46-23 against Brady’s angry squad. The most worrying part of this team lies on the defensive side of the ball. They’ve allowed 23+ points in the last five games.

On offense, things aren’t clicking. Their offense and defense don’t complement. I know that Bridgewater learned from Drew Brees, he’s a feel good story, and he’s posting an insane completion percenatage. But, they can’t dink and dunk against the teams they’re competing with, especially with a defense that doesn’t win on 3rd down.

All in all, this isn’t the Saints where he can hit high percentage plays to elite players in space with Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara. This is a team that’s atrocious on defense, McCaffrey is injured, and their best players are at WR (Robby Anderson and DJ Moore). They may likely get blown out if they push the ball downfield and it doesn’t work out, but they need to take more risks after losing “five” games.

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