Week 8 was an interesting one for the NFC South. We saw three out of four teams come away with wins, and the three contenders have now put some significant distance between themselves and the 2-5 Bucs. None of these teams looked stellar during their contests, but all that matters is that both the Saints and Panthers came away with wins—meaning that the Falcons are still one game back on the Saints and a half-game back on the Panthers heading into Week 9.
Let’s take a closer look at the standings and the results from each game.
NFC South Standings - Week 8
New Orleans Saints 5-2
Carolina Panthers 5-3
Atlanta Falcons 4-3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-5
The Saints remain on top of the standings after narrowly defeating the Chicago Bears at home. Carolina dispatched the lowly Buccaneers on the road and improved their record to 5-3, staying a half-game ahead of the Falcons. Atlanta defeated the Jets on the road, ending their 3-game losing streak and getting back above .500 at 4-3. The Bucs, as previously stated, lost a stinker at home to the Panthers—a game in which they were thoroughly dominated. They are now 2-5 and in the midst of a 4-game losing streak.
Chicago Bears 12 - New Orleans Saints 20
The Saints managed to hold off the Bears at home despite an efficient but relatively lackluster game from Drew Brees (23/28 for 299 yards and no TDs). New Orleans instead leaned on their ground game, which accounted for 101 yards and 2 TDs on 30 attempts. Mark Ingram fumbled twice, giving the Bears a few extra chances to tie up the game. Bears’ TE Zach Miller had a fantastic catch in the endzone (where he was seriously injured) which should have been a TD, but it was reversed because the NFL has no idea what a catch is. The Saints’ defense is still very susceptible to rushing attacks, as New Orleans allowed 157 yards on the ground to the Bears.
Carolina Panthers 17 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3
The Panthers defeated the Bucs on the road in what was really a pretty boring game on both sides. Jameis Winston was a turnover machine, as he tossed two INTs and lost a fumble. The Bucs as a whole managed only one field goal despite outgaining the Panthers on offense. Carolina’s defense continued to play well, but the Panthers’ offense is simply not good. Newton was once again the team’s leading rusher—with 11 attempts for 44 yards—but he only completed 18/32 passes for a measly 154 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT. The Panthers are a very hot-and-cold team, and the Falcons should have ample opportunity to take advantage next week in Carolina.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after eight weeks? Do you think the Falcons have a chance to go into Carolina and get the W on Sunday? Are you surprised at all that the Mike Smith-led Bucs’ defense is last in the league in sacks?