It was a relatively quiet week in the division as both the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons both had bye weeks. That left just the defending champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers left to due battle. Here’s how they fared this week.
Buccaneers 28 Eagles 22
It was a tale of two halves in this one as the Bucs raced out to a 21-7 halftime lead, but then had to hold on at the end as Philly outscored Tampa 15-7 in the second half. Tom Brady continued his dominate play as he tossed 2 more touchdown passes in this one to improve to 17 for the season. He is now 2nd in the league in touchdown throws and leads the league in passing yards. Pretty remarkable for a 44 year old quarterback in his 22nd year in the league. To put that into perspective his counterpart on the Eagles, Jalen Hurts just turned 23 a couple months back so Brady has almost been playing in the NFL as long as Hurts has been alive.
The Buccaneers received a major contribution from running back Leonard Fournette as he accounted for 127 total yards and 2 touchdowns. While the Buccaneers continue their winning ways, they want to buck (no pun intended) the injury trend that continues to plague them. They lost another member of the secondary as newly signed cornerback Richard Sherman left the game early with a hamstring injury. That’s the 3rd starter in the secondary alone the Bucs have lost to injury so far this year. Despite this, Tom Brady has his team at 5-1 and currently leading their division as he continues to play lights out football at his age. He’ll look to continue his dominance this Sunday as they host the Chicago Bears.
Vikings 34 Panthers 28
It was definitely all good just a few weeks ago. At that time the Carolina Panthers were riding high and undefeated at 3-0. The last 3 weeks have seen 3 straight losses all by 8 points or less. This was another heartbreaker as they fell in overtime. The downfall in this one was turnovers as the Panthers turned the ball over 3 times including an interception on the first play of the game. The Panthers then coughed it up 2 more times and had a punt blocked for a touchdown so it was nearly a miracle they were in the game to begin with. Quarterback Sam Darnold had another so so game as he only threw for 207 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He was also sacked 4 times. After starting the season with only 1 pick in his first 3 games, Darnold has reverted back to his Jets days in the last 3 as he thrown 6 interceptions and have seen the Panthers lose all 3 of those contests.
The defense who started off so hot has cooled off significantly as the Vikings got chunks of yardage at a time to the tune of 571 total yards. They got virtually no pressure on Kirk Cousins and he tore them up for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns. With Christian McCaffrey still on IR with the ankle injury, the Panthers need to rely on defense and turnover free football to be successful. Those things have not happened and the tailspin has begun. They will look to break the losing streak when they take on the New York Giants on the road this Sunday.
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