Another week, another slate of games that saw the NFC South establish itself as perhaps the most competitive division in football. The standings atop the South have continued to tighten, with New Orleans and Carolina tied at 8-3 and the Falcons just behind them at 7-4. This also marks two straight weeks now that the NFC South would have three teams in the playoffs. Pretty impressive.
Let’s take a look at the divisional standings and how each of the teams fared in their games during Week 12.
NFC South Standings
New Orleans Saints 8-3
Carolina Panthers 8-3
Atlanta Falcons 7-4
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 4-7
The Saints saw their 8-game winning streak snapped after being thoroughly handled by the Rams on the road. Carolina squeaked by a surprisingly game Jets team on the back of some late game defensive heroics. Atlanta dispatched the Buccaneers at home with an explosive showing on offense, and in all likelihood effectively eliminated Tampa Bay from the playoffs.
Carolina Panthers 35 - New York Jets 27
The Panthers escaped New York with a narrow victory after the Jets blew another fourth quarter lead. Carolina’s offense was mostly ineffective throughout the contest, but they got a boost from a fumble recovery TD and then a 60-yd punt return TD on the ensuing drive. The Jets managed to move the ball well against Carolina’s defense—outgaining the Panthers 391-299—but couldn’t get out of their own way to close out the game. Carolina doesn’t appear to be a particularly “good” team, but their tenacity in scraping out ugly wins is commendable.
New Orleans Saints 20 - Los Angeles Rams 26
The Rams got out to an early 10-0 lead and never relinquished it, handing the Saints their first defeat since Week 2. Los Angeles shut down Mark Ingram and held Drew Brees in check on defense, while taking advantage of a New Orleans’ defense that has struggled over the last few games. The Saints simply couldn’t dig themselves out of their early hole, adding a score with 0:42 remaining in the game to make it look more respectable than it was. This game made the Saints look a lot more mortal than they’ve appeared recently—hopefully the Falcons can take some notes.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after Week 12? Do you think the Falcons hold on to a Wild Card spot, or do you think they’ll be able to take down both the Saints and Panthers en route to the division crown? Are the Bucs officially cooked at 4-7?