The Falcons are making the NFC South more interesting than any of us would like. Two straight losses and two straight Tampa Bay wins were enough to ensure that, and while I don’t know that the Buccaneers are any good, the Falcons aren’t putting enough distance between them for us to feel great about Atlanta holding them off.
Here are the (tightening) standings.
NFC South Standings
The Falcons shouldn’t have lost that game to San Diego, but they did, and if the division comes down to one game, they’ll wind up regretting it. We saw the defense exposed, the offense slowed, and other worrying signs. They’ll have to dispatch the ghosts of years past in short order to stay in first place.
The Buccaneers, meanwhile, have won two in a row. There was an ugly win over Carolina and a more impressive one against a terrible 49ers team, where the offense seems to at least be settling into a groove with Jacquizz Rodgers (?!) running well. It’s a deeply flawed team that hasn’t looked good against a single contender outside of arguably Atlanta, but they’re within striking distance, have a tiebreaker over the Falcons at this point, and this sucks.
The Saints got trucked by a clearly superior Chiefs team, and while they’re not dead yet, their limitations are obvious. They’re like an exaggerated version of this Falcons team, with an even more dismal defense and an offense that isn’t quite as multi-faceted, though it is legitimately very talented. I think they’ll continue to seesaw between wins and losses, finishing up between 5-11 and 7-9.
Meanwhile, the Panthers were off this week, and they are toast unless everyone else in the division collapses, which would be a super NFC South thing to do. Let’s hope they’re finished.