As we move through this NFL season things start to become more clear as the contenders get separated from the pretenders. This seems to be the case in the NFC South as only the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a winning record. Those 2 teams are set to do battle this upcoming weekend in New Orleans. Let’s take a look around the rest of the NFC South and see how the teams fared this past weekend.
Giants 25 Panthers 3
Anything that can go wrong has gone wrong for the Panthers as they turned in their most abysmal performance of the season. Things got so bad that quarterback Sam Darnold was benched in the 4th quarter due to his ineptitude in leading the offense. Darnold finished a woeful 16/25 for just 112 yards and an interception. He also had an intentional grounding penalty in the end zone that lead to a safety. The Panthers took the opening drive and marched down the field, but settled for a field goal. Little did they know this would be their only points of the afternoon. Adding insult to injury (or maybe injury to insult), the Panthers lost newly acquired cornerback C.J. Henderson to a shoulder injury in the 2nd half. That has been a position group decimated by injuries as rookie Jaycee Horn had to be placed on injured reserve after breaking his foot. How the Panthers bounce back is unclear. Star running back Christian McCaffrey is still out for a couple more weeks at least as he recovers from his hamstring injury. With Darnold getting bench and the Panthers on a 4 game losing streak, there are more questions than answers for this team right now. They will attempt to bounce back this weekend as they travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. Speaking of the Falcons...
Falcons 30 Dolphins 28
Yes, the Falcons are on a 2 game winning streak and are winners of 3 of their last 4 games, but is anyone convinced? The combined record of the teams the Falcons have beaten is 4-16. But in the NFL a win is a win and that’s exactly what the Falcons did on Sunday. Matt Ryan threw for 336 yards and 2 touchdowns and led his team on a game winning field drive as they won as time expired. The Falcons have been unconventional most of the year as wide receiver turned running back Cordarrelle Patterson is the team's leading rusher even though they keep more conventional running backs in rotation. Rookie sensation Kyle Pitts had another solid outing as he caught 7 passes for 163 yards as he leads the team in receptions and yards so far this year. While the defense wasn’t great, they did force the Dolphins into 2 turnovers which directly lead to 10 Atlanta points, The Falcons will once again look to beat up on a struggling team as they will host the Panthers on Sunday who come in on a 4 game losing streak.
Bucs 38 Bears 3
No Gronk. No Brown. No problem. The train just keeps on rolling for the Buccaneers as they are an absolute offensive juggernaut again this season. The ageless wonder Tom Brady tossed another 4 touchdown passes, including his 600th career TD pass, and now leads the league with 21. Wasn’t much of a game in this one as Tampa built a 21-0 halftime lead and never looked back. The Bucs have scored at least 30 points in 5 of their 7 games and scored 28 in another one. Whatever they want to do on offense they seem to be willing and able to do so. What is scary for the rest of the NFL is the defense is coming along as well. They have allowed 17 points or less in 3 of their last 4 games and gave rookie quarterback Justin Fields a nice welcome to the NFL reminder. They sacked the rookie 4 times and picked him off 3 times as they dominated the Bears on both sides of the ball. It will be interesting to see if Tampa can keep the momentum rolling heading into a big divisional showdown with the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday.
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