Week 5 has come and gone, with some pretty strange (Jacksonville upsetting Pittsburgh on the road) and also some interesting (Deshaun Watson throwing 5 TDs) results. We also unfortunately saw our share of devastating injuries, including Odell Beckham Jr. and J.J. Watt.
This was a particularly quiet week in the NFC South, with two teams (the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints) on bye. Nevertheless, the other two teams had difficult match-ups, with the Bucs taking on the Patriots and the Panthers heading to Detroit to face the Lions. Let’s take a look at the standings after Week 5 and how these two games went down.
NFC South Standings - Week 5
Carolina Panthers 4-1
Atlanta Falcons 3-1
New Orleans Saints 2-2
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-2
The Panthers improved to 4-1 after holding off a late comeback attempt by the Lions. They appear to be the biggest competition for the Falcons in the NFC South. Atlanta and New Orleans were both on bye this week, and remained at 3-1 and 2-2, respectively. The Buccaneers lost a fairly close game to the Patriots, falling to 2-2 and ending up last place in the NFC South due to tiebreakers.
New England Patriots 19 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14
Tampa Bay lost a close one to the Patriots after kicker Nick Folk (who has now been replaced by Patrick Murray) missed 3 (!) field goals, including a pretty short chip shot. The Buccaneers’ offense was largely ineffective throughout the game, despite Doug Martin returning and looking pretty good. Still, Tampa’s defense played well enough to win, holding Tom Brady and the Patriots to only 19 points. A late drive that would’ve given the Bucs the win fell short after Jameis Winston—who continued to struggle in this game—failed to connect with O.J. Howard on 4th down. The Bucs, despite all their offseason moves, appear largely similar to 2016: stretches of impressive play coupled with periods of ineptitude.
Carolina Panthers 27 - Detroit Lions 24
This was a pretty strange game that the Panthers appeared to control for the most part. Carolina’s offense has continued to look better after a dismal start to the season, with Cam Newton throwing for 355 and 3 TDs against a Lions’ defense that appears to be pretty weak. Detroit allowed back-up TE Ed Dickson to pile up 175 yards on only 5 catches, which is completely ridiculous. The Panthers’ run game is still pretty awful, with Stewart and McCaffrey combining for 28 yards on 21 attempts. A late comeback attempt by the Lions fell short, but they were still able to score 14 points in the 4th quarter. The Panthers appear to be the biggest threat to the Falcons in the NFC South, but they’re still a flawed team.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after five weeks? Are you concerned about the Panthers usurping the Falcons’ throne? Are the Bucs going to have a kicking game at all in 2017?