Week 13 has come and gone, and with it we’ve received a clearer picture of the Falcons’ potential playoff hopes. New Orleans appears to be tightening their grip on the NFC South with a sweep of the Panthers, but that may have opened the door for Atlanta to overtake Carolina in the wild card standings down the road. Atlanta’s loss to Minnesota has made things more difficult, but not impossible for the defending NFC champions.
Let’s take a look at the standings after Week 13, and recap the other NFC South games.
NFC South Standings
The Saints thoroughly defeated the Panthers at home, seizing control of first place in the division and sending Carolina back to second place. Atlanta lost a close game to the Vikings, falling to 7-5 and two games behind the Saints for the division lead. Tampa Bay lost in overtime to the Packers, eliminating any mathematical hopes for a potential playoff berth.
Carolina Panthers 21 - New Orleans Saints 31
New Orleans took care of the Panthers at home on Sunday, gouging Carolina on the ground and holding Cam Newton mostly in check. Ingram and Kamara combined for 145 yards and 3 TDs on 23 carries, and added 11 receptions for 103 yards. They remain arguably the NFL’s most dangerous RB duo in 2017. The Panthers offense struggled once again, falling behind 21-7 in the second quarter. Newton threw for only 183 yards, and once again led the team in rushing with 51 yards on six carries. With several difficult match-ups coming (Vikings, Packers with Rodgers potential return) the Panthers are in serious danger of losing their grip on a wild card berth.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20 - Green Bay Packers 26
Despite holding Brett Hundley to only 84 yards passing, the Buccaneers were unable to come away with a win on the road. Winston had a decent return, throwing for 270 yards and 2 TDs, but was sacked seven times behind a patchwork offensive line. The biggest surprise was RB Peyton Barber, who racked up 102 yards on the ground and 4 catches for 41 yards in relief of the injured Doug Martin. Green Bay managed to steal this game with the help of a defensive TD and impressive outings from RBs Jamaal Williams (113 yards and a TD) and Aaron Jones (20-yd TD in overtime). Tampa Bay is essentially eliminated from contention with this loss.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after 13 weeks? Do you have faith in the Falcons pulling off the sweep of the Saints to, perhaps, take the division crown? Or do the Falcons best hopes lie in sneaking in to the final wild card slot?