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NFC South standings, Week 16: Nothing changes, everything changes

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The standings haven't changed much, but there were some moves nonetheless.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

On one hand, nothing has changed in the NFC South. Every team is still in their same slots, and no one but the Panthers appears to be playoff bound.

What did change, however, is that the Panthers are no longer undefeated, and the Falcons may very well finish over .500, and they're certainly locked into second place in the division. It's a minor thing for Carolina, I'd expect, aside from any sadness over not joining the historic ranks of undefeated teams. It's a major thing for Atlanta, which was sliding into a lost season before righting the ship a bit with nice, narrow wins over Jacksonville and Carolina the last two weeks.

On to the standings.

NFC South Standings

Panthers: 14-1
Falcons: 8-7
Buccaneers: 6-9
Saints:

The Panthers finally lost. They're still good enough to make a deep playoff run and even win the Super Bowl, so this changes very little for them, but the Giants showed they were vulnerable a week ago, and the Falcons finally got it done in the Georgia Dome. This could herald the decline of these Panthers, who many felt were playing over their heads this season, or it could be the motivational fuel they need to cap off this season with a championship. We honestly don't know, but they're locked in to one of the top seeds in the NFC, so the loss was only so crushing.

The Falcons, meanwhile, get a massive boost from this one. They won't become the first NFL team to start 5-0 and finish under .500, first of all, and they proved they can get it done against one of the best teams in the NFL, with young talent performing admirably. It's something to build on for 2016, at the very least.

The Buccaneers are now in their own slide, having evened their record up at 6-6 and surpassing the Falcons before losing their last three in listless fashion. As I've said repeatedly this year, there's young talent here with Jameis Winston, their receivers, and some of their defenders, but there's work to be done here. They'll either be great by 2017 or Lovie Smith will be looking for work.

And then there's the Saints, who now sit at 6-9 and just handily beat the hapless Jaguars before their upcoming matchup against the Falcons. They're playing for pride and perhaps to avoid blowing this whole thing up this coming offseason, and even if the post-Sean Payton (and maybe Drew Brees) era is inevitable, they don't want to go out like a bunch of chumps.

We'll know the final division standings in one week. Stay tuned.