It’s official as we now have a new division champion for the first time in more than four years. The Buccaneers claimed their first division title in 14 years and guarantee themselves at least one playoff home game. The New Orleans Saints who had previously been the flag bearer for the division for 4 straight years did not help their playoff chances with their 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Monday night. That game has been dissected and analyzed thoroughly on this site so check out those articles for the full breakdown. Here is my look around the NFC South.
Buccaneers 32 Panthers 6
After getting shut out at home and breaking a Surface Tablet last week, the Bucs quickly bounced back and broke the spirit of the dispirited Panthers rather quickly in this one. Tampa welcomed back the return of wide receiver Antonio Brown from suspension in this one and he more than answered the call by catching 10 passes for 101 yards. The Bucs were playing without multiple offensive weapons due to injury, but it mattered not against a Panther team eyeing vacation plans in the offseason. Tom Brady, by his standards, had a very pedestrian game completing just 18 passes for 232 and a touchdown. He didn’t need to do much as his defense was dominant allowing just 273 yards to the Panthers and sacking Carolina quarterbacks 7 times in this one. Notice that was quarterbacks with a S as both Cam Newton and Sam Darnold played in this one with neither having much success. How the Panthers will play those two in the final couple games will be interesting moving forward. We’ll find that answer up close this Sunday as the Panthers will travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints. Meanwhile, the Bucs will travel to New York to take on the Jets.
Falcons 20 Lions 16
The Falcons were able to keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a narrow victory against the Lions. The Falcons will have to win out their final 2 games and get some help in order to get in. How the Falcons managed to squeak this one seemed like they had divine help in this one. The Falcons were outgained both in passing and rushing, lost the time of possession, and pretty much lost in every statistical category. However, they won in the only number category that matters which is the scoreboard. Matt Ryan threw the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth and they held on late with a game saving interception in the waning minutes. These close games have been a theme for the Falcons all year and they have succeeded mightily going 7-2 in one possession games this season. The Falcons hope to carry this grittiness to an improbable playoff berth considering their circumstances. They have a tough road ahead starting with a trip to Buffalo this Sunday. The Falcons hope their any means necessary mantra can carry over to these next couple of games.
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