If I told you the Falcons would lose six straight games before they won one, yet be in sole possession of second place in the NFC South, would you have believed me? Of course not. I'm deeply untrustworthy.
There's little more than bragging rights and draft position at stake here, but it could get pretty wild over the next couple of weeks.
NFC South Standings
The Panthers are very good and very talented, but they still have the feel of a ticking time bomb right now. Michael Oher has allowed just four sacks all year, Jonathan Stewart is getting banged up at exactly the wrong time, and yesterday the defense completely melted down and almost lost the game for Carolina against the up-and-down Giants. The Panthers could be the next team to go entirely undefeated through the regular season and playoffs, or they could lose their first playoff game. Little would surprise me right now.
The Falcons could be in the NFC playoff race as more than just a "well, technically" candidate if they hadn't blown shots to beat a wilting Buccaneers team earlier in the year, but for now, we'll settle for seeing a win and second place as Atlanta tries to avoid becoming the first NFL team to start 5-0 and finish under .500. It was an encouraging win with a fine defensive performance.
The Buccaneers are a tough team to figure out. They seem to be putting things together for stretches, then the offensive line nearly gets Jameis Winston killed and the defense makes Case Keenum look like a capable NFL quarterback. Again, they'll be more dangerous in a year, assuming Lovie Smith isn't the true impediment to success here.
The Saints just keep hanging around. They have an outside chance of finishing in second place in the South after looking like the worst team in the division for a while. The long-term outlook for the team still isn't that great, but they'll take some small triumphs this year.