State of the NFC South

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons are coming off of their bye week and looking toward Sunday's matchup against their division rivals, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. What's the current state of the rest of the NFC South?

We all know where the Falcons stand. At 1-4, they are managing to cling to the third place spot in the division for the time being. New Orleans is on top at 5-1, following a thrilling, last-second loss to New England yesterday. The Panthers are currently second, at 2-3, and trailing the Falcons are the Buccaneers, who have yet to win a game and remain 0-5.

The Saints have entered their bye week, after suffering a hard-fought loss to the Patriots. New England took a 17-7 lead into the half, and New Orleans fought back in the second half, taking a 24-23 lead over the Patriots with 3:29 remaining in the game. The Saints then extended their lead to 27-23 on a Garrett Hartley field goal. On the first play of the Patriots' ensuing possession, Tom Brady threw an interception to Saints cornerback Keenan Lewis, and it was looking like the Saints would hang on to win.

The Patriots took possession on their own 30 yard line after a New Orleans punt, with just 1:13 remaining in the game, and used that time wisely, moving down the field to score on a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Kenbrell Thompkins with just five seconds remaining on the clock. Rob Ryan's reaction sums up the Saints' perspective.

If the excitement of that last-minute win is not readily apparent to you, or if you just need a laugh on this fine Monday, check out this radio call from Boston's 98.5 The Sports Hub.

The Panthers visited the Minnesota Vikings, and came away with a big win, solidifying their second-place spot in the NFC South. Cam Newton had an unreal game, completing 20 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three passing touchdowns, plus one rushing touchdown. If Cam Newton is your fantasy quarterback, congratulations. Carolina free safety Mike Mitchell finished the day with two Matt Cassel interceptions, which helped the Panthers thoroughly dominate. The Panthers won 35-10, moving to 2-3 on the season, and will take on the St. Louis Rams at home next week.

The Buccaneers fell to the Nick Foles-led Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 31-20. Foles had a similar day to Cam Newton, throwing for three touchdown passes, and rushing for another. The Bucs have been dealing with a lot of distraction, from the drama surrounding the release of former starting quarterback Josh Freeman, and the transition to rookie Mike Glennon as the starter, to ongoing concerns about methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections that are originating from within their training facility. Guard Carl Nicks had a recurrence of the infection, which is exceedingly difficult to treat due to its resistance to many strains of antibiotics, and rookie cornerback Jonathan Banks was also diagnosed with MRSA last week. The Bucs will travel to Atlanta next Sunday, and the Falcons desperately need a win, so it's important that they don't look past struggling Tampa Bay.

Share your thoughts on yesterday's NFC South games!

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