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NFC South Standings, Week 9: Atlanta widens its divisional lead

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With a win on Thursday night, the Falcons are in the driver’s seat in a major way.

Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons looked like they had the potential to run away with the NFC South a couple of weeks ago, but as is so often the case in the NFL, things changed. That’s why the 33-32 triumph over Green Bay was so huge.

Atlanta’s opened up a quality lead in the division right now that they can widen by beating the Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football. While there were plenty of flashing warning signs in this one, the Falcons did wind up winning, so I’m not going to bet against them. If they can start playing defense like they did on that last drive, the sky’s the limit for Atlanta.

Here’s the standings heading into the week.

NFC South Standings

Falcons: 5-3

Buccaneers: 3-4

Saints: 3-4

Panthers: 2-5

The Falcons needed this win, and while it was down to the wire, they got one. There was impressive resilience, impressive offense, and (late), impressive defense to earn the win, and that’s enough for me to continue to feel good about the season ahead. They’re on pace to wind up 10-6, and I hope they’ll wind up there or better.

The Buccaneers had a chance to close the gap in the NFC South in a major way and played a tight game with the Oakland Raiders, one marred by mistakes and a missed Roberto Aguayo extra point. They went to overtime and ultimately lost on blown coverage on a 41 yard touchdown catch by Oakland’s Seth Roberts. They’re showing more these last few weeks, which is worrisome, but thankfully they didn’t get the win.

The Saints, meanwhile, were extremely impressive. They beat a very good, increasingly healthy Seahawks team and suddenly are very much in the divisional race, and at this point all you can do is tip your cap to this messed up, cap-strapped team which is still somehow getting it done. I hate them, but I admire them.

The Panthers hauled themselves up and won against Arizona in a very weird game where Cam Newton never actually scored. They needed that win just to stay alive, and while they remain an extreme longshot to stay in the race, it was a much-needed win against a solid football team.

The race is still on, in case you haven’t noticed, and the Falcons will need to reel off a few wins for this to feel decided. They can start with Thursday night.