Week 14 has come and gone, and with it, we’ve seen the NFL’s best division continue to tighten. The NFC South now has three teams with more than eight wins. To put that in context, the entire AFC has only four teams with more than eight wins. This division is ridiculously competitive in 2017, and it’s looking more and more likely that the NFC South will have three teams in the playoffs.
Let’s take a closer look at the state of the division after the conclusion of Week 14’s games.
NFC South Standings
The Saints and Falcons clashed on Thursday Night Football, with the Falcons coming away with a narrow win. New Orleans retains first place due to the head-to-head tiebreaker over Carolina. The Panthers managed to defeat the Vikings, pulling even with the Saints and making it clear that they won’t be going away any time soon. Atlanta defeated the Saints, improving their record to 8-5 and keeping the division crown (and a wild card berth) well within reach. Tampa Bay lost a nailbiter to the Lions at home, and have been officially eliminated from playoff contention.
Minnesota Vikings 24 - Carolina Panthers 31
The Panthers managed to come away with a win on Sunday against the Vikings on the back of a few big plays and three turnovers by Case Keenum. Minnesota’s already depleted offensive line (down starting C Pat Elflein and RT Mike Remmers) lost another key player in LT Riley Reiff, and it was simply too much to overcome as Keenum was sacked six times. Carolina was actually out-gained by the Vikings 356-345, but managed to reel off a few big plays and take advantage of Minnesota mistakes to close out the victory. Carolina stays in the hunt for the division, but has a potentially difficult test against Aaron Rodgers next week.
Detroit Lions 24 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21
Tampa was thoroughly outplayed during the majority of the game, falling behind 21-7 in the third quarter. The Buccaneers managed to rally, scoring two TDs in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t quite enough to secure the win over the Lions. Tampa Bay had five turnovers, including two INTs by Winston and three fumbles, in what was a very sloppy overall game by the Bucs. The Lions weren’t much better despite getting the narrow win, with Stafford throwing two picks and Eric Ebron losing a fumble. The Bucs are fully out of the playoff picture, but the Lions are still holding on to a slim hope.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after 14 weeks? Do you think the Falcons can continue their rise and take over the division crown by season’s end? Who do you think is the biggest threat to Atlanta with three games remaining?