Week 3 has come and gone, and what a strange weekend of football it was. There were unexpected blowouts, surprisingly good games (I’m looking at you, TNF), and a lot of upsets. Hell, the Jets won a game. Anything is possible in the NFL in the year 2017, folks.
I’m not sure how much we really learned from this week, but it looks like the Falcons remain the class of the NFC and NFC South at 3-0. Sure, two of their victories weren’t exactly beautiful, but they were both on the road against quality opponents. Look at Chicago’s defeat of the Steelers. That team is clearly a threat at home, regardless of how hopeless they may look when they have to travel.
It was also mostly good news for the Falcons in the NFC South standings this week. Let’s take a closer look at where we are at the conclusion of Week 3.
NFC South Standings - Week 3
The Falcons took over sole possession of first place in the division with their win against Detroit on Sunday. Carolina fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in a blowout against NFC South rival New Orleans, and are in second at 2-1. The Bucs got roasted by Case Keenum and fell to 1-1 on the season, but they’re still ahead of the Saints. Speaking of the Saints, they embarrassed the Panthers this week, keeping their season on life support.
New Orleans Saints 34, Carolina Panthers 13
The Panthers were thoroughly embarrassed at home by the 0-2 Saints on Sunday, and it was pretty darn glorious to see. With Greg Olsen out and Kelvin Benjamin banged up, the Panthers’ leading receiver was RB Christian McCaffrey, who still managed to put up 101 yards receiving against the Saints defense. Cam Newton was awful, throwing three interceptions to one of the worst units in the league and also fumbling twice. New Orleans’ offense efficiently took care of the Panthers’ defense—which is still good, but can’t make up for an offense that is incapable of doing anything. Both of these teams are pretty uninspiring at this point.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17, Minnesota Vikings 34
After “winning the offseason” yet again, the Buccaneers were blown out on the road by Vikings’ backup QB Case Keenum to the tune of 34-17. The defense was gouged repeatedly through the air and on the ground, with Keenum tossing 3 TDs (and 369 yards) and rookie RB Dalvin Cook rushing for 97 yards and a TD. Tampa’s lack of depth in the secondary was exposed early and often, with WR Stefon Diggs going off for 173 yards and 2 TDs. The Bucs’ offense wasn’t good, either—Winston threw three interceptions and fumbled twice. Tampa managed only 26 yards on 10 rushing attempts. They clearly have issues on both offense and defense that need to be worked out before they can be talked about as a legitimate threat in the NFC South.
After a Week 2 that saw three NFC South teams undefeated, the Falcons are the last team standing. Every one of them has serious question marks. The Panthers have little to no offense. New Orleans’ defense is a dumpster fire. The Bucs don’t have any depth on defense and have no running game, at least not until Doug Martin returns. Things are shaping up pretty nicely for Atlanta, at least for the moment. Let’s hope that trend continues.
What are your thoughts on the NFC South after Week 3? Do any rival teams worry you, or are they all trash? Will there be more than one 7-9 team in the division at the end of the season?