It was a depressing week of NFC South action for the Falcons, as everything broke wrong for their potential playoff hopes in Week 9. Atlanta bumbled away a chance to get within a game of the Saints, and New Orleans took advantage of a very bad Bucs team to extend their division lead. The Falcons aren’t out of it yet—particularly when they still have 5 division games left including two against the Saints—but their margin for error is just about gone.
Let’s check in on the standings and get a recap of the Tampa Bay-New Orleans game.
NFC South Standings - Week 9
The Saints maintained their hold on the division with a shellacking of the lowly Buccaneers on Sunday. Carolina is a half-game behind the Saints and in second place after a narrow win over the Falcons. Atlanta blew a 10-0 lead early in the game against Carolina and has fallen to 4-4, two games back on the Saints. Tampa Bay continued their losing streak by falling in depressing fashion to the Saints, and are now 4 games back—they’re all but eliminated from contention at this point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 - New Orleans Saints 30
New Orleans continued their impressive 6-win streak after a thorough defeat of the miserable Buccaneers. The Saints got an early lead after they blocked a punt and returned it for a TD, and it was all downhill from there for Tampa Bay. Brees was his usual efficient self, completing 22/27 passes for 263 yards and 2 TDs. The RB duo of Ingram and Kamara continues to shine, as the two combined for 26 carries for 145 yards. Tampa Bay lost QB Jameis Winston to an injury partway through the game, and he is expected to miss several weeks. The Bucs were bad through the air (15/28 for 135 yards) and on the ground (25 rushes for 87 yards)—their season is all but over.
There you have it—short and sweet this week with all four division teams playing each other. The Falcons are still alive numerically, but they’ll need to actually show that they can play good football at some point for any of this to matter. Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.
What are your thoughts on the division after nine weeks? Do you think the Falcons still have a shot at either the division crown or a wild-card spot?