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State of the NFC South, Week 12: Saints soar, Falcons fall

The Saints annihilated their despised opponent—The Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The New OrleansSaints are widening their division lead after an impressive win over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11. The story of the week had to be Taysom Hill notching 250+ passing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. And of course, the Saints pass rush getting a franchise record (tied) of 9 sacks on Matt Ryan—some early Thanksgiving dinner for the league’s sack leader, Trey Hendrickson and the boys.

As for the losing culprits in the NFC South, the Buccaneers lost on Monday Night Football. That brings their record to 7-4. Atlanta now sits beautiful at 3-7 after their close loss to New Orleans. And P.J. Walker was the second best surprise in the NFL after his team’s impressive win over Detroit, by a score of 20-0. That bring Carolina up to 4-7. Nice job, former XFL stud!

All in all, this division is full of potential and Super Bowl competitors. Let’s dive in and break this piece down!

New Orleans Saints

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

Michael Thomas has arrived. It’s nice to exhale a little easier on connection between the Michael Thomas and the Saints game script. “MT” went from 2-3 catches to 7+ catches, while still having a big time drop. It’s good to see that Saints can lean on Thomas or Kamara when the game is on the line.

On defense, my goodness. The Saints defensive front is deep and scary. Trey Hendrickson leads the league in sacks, but he still rotates in. David Onymeta is trying hard to make the Saints pull a rabbit out of a hat and find a way to pay him, with his Top-10 PFF grade on the season.

All in all, it was exciting to see the Saints win a divisional game, but it was intriguing to see them blow out an improving Falcons team without Brees and Lattimore.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are hard to crack. It seems like each week we talk about “They’re so talented, but they aren’t in sync”. The sad part is that we will probably be talking about it for them in the post-season. Let’s stop giving them a boost and pat on the back. It’s about to be Week 12, and this quote holds true to every team “You are what your record says you are”. Especially, in Week 12.

This team is around average in the secondary, they don’t have an elite offensive system. Bruce Arians doesn’t make every QB pose career highs in interceptions for no reason. This team is around average, but injured on the offensive line. Sure, they have an elite WR, two other good WRs, and a QB that’s efficient. A 7-4 record is very fitting.

“We can’t talk about them as a Super Bowl team because Tom Brady has a great resume, Gronk was a pro-bowler a few years ago, Antonio Brown was a recent free agent, and Leonard Foruentte was a free agent pick-up.”

Looking ahead, the Buccaneers combat the Chiefs in Week 12. They will need another great performance out of Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s a ball-hawk in the flat on defense. Lavonte David will likely need a great performance in the middle boundaries against Kelce. If Tom Brady has a “great” game, the Buccaneers will have a real chance of beating a juggernaut this time.

Carolina Panthers

NFL: Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Teddy Bridgewater is reported to be practicing on Wednesday, so that’s a good sign for the Panthers coming off an impressive victory. P.J. Walker, the ex-XFL stud will have a slew of teams waiting to speak with his agent when the season ends after his first career win. Despite, Walker throwing 2 interceptions, he had a nice touchdown pass in the corner of the end-zone to Curtis Samuel.

The most intriguing aspect of this Panthers win had to rest on their defense. No matter the opponent, it’s very hard to shut out a team. Especially for a less-talented Panthers defense late in the season, that’s optimistic. It’s a sign of good coaches and players buying in.

Up ahead, the Panthers play the Vikings come Sunday. Whoever loses this game will likely be out of the wildcard spot. Can Teddy seek revenge on his former team? We will find out.

Atlanta Falcons

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Something tells me that Matt Ryan wouldn’t want to be in the same elevator as Cameron Jordan. Jordan has 7 sacks in the last two games against Ryan. I’m not sure if Atlanta knows how to block the All-Pro DE. That was the story of the game, as the Saints had 9 sacks on the day-check Jordan’s Instagram for a nice clip of his thoughts on the Falcons.

Nonetheless, Atlanta needs to hit the reset button. This team is all but out of the playoff hunt, barring that Atlanta runs the table.

Up ahead, the Falcons get a date with the Raiders. That will be a firework show between the two of the Top-8 passing attacks, combined with poor secondaries. After Las Vegas, Matt Ryan gets to see his favorite defensive line again—New Orleans Saints.

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