It’s common knowledge in sports that, if you take care of your own business, you don’t have to worry about anybody else as far as the standings are concerned.
While this is entirely true, getting some help along the way is never a bad thing. This column will be completely dedicated to the results of the other three NFC South teams throughout the season, and hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
The Falcons knew the fate of their division rivals before they even kicked off, as they have the Monday Night game and everyone else played on Sunday. Here’s how those division rivals fared in Week 7:
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26, Cleveland Browns 23
What even was this game? First, the Tampa Bay Bucs looked like they were ready to cruise to victory, as they took a 16-2 lead into halftime. Jameis Winston looked sharp early on, scoring a rushing touchdown and leading a drive which culminated in a DeSean Jackson rushing TD as well.
Then, the mistakes started in the second half, as Winston fumbled on the opening drive of the third quarter. The Browns subsequently turned it over on downs despite the great field position. Baker Mayfield would end up leading lead three second half scoring drives, however, the latter of which tied the game at 23 with 2:28 left. Winston got the Bucs into field goal range to try and win, but kicker Chandler Catanzaro missed.
In overtime, both teams failed to score on their first two possessions, but just as it looked like the game was destined to end in a tie, Browns’ returner Jabrill Peppers fumbled the punt return and gave it to Tampa in FG range. After the offense went backward on three plays, Catanzaro redeemed himself by nailing a 59-yard FG to win.
Winston failed to throw a touchdown and threw two interceptions while also fumbling once, but his 365 passing yards set his team up for 26 points. Mike Evans went for over 100 receiving yards for the first time since Week 3. Winston was also the team’s leading rusher with 55 yards.
Baker Mayfield accounted for 215 passing yards and two passing touchdowns with no turnovers, Jarvis Landry being his most effective target with 97 receiving yards and one of those touchdowns. Nick Chubb rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown as the team’s new primary running back following the trade of Carlos Hyde.
Carolina Panthers 21, Philadelphia Eagles 17
This was a disaster for Falcons fans tuning in and hoping for a second straight Panthers defeat. The Philadelphia Eagles got out to a 17-0 lead in the third quarter, following Carson Wentz touchdown passes to Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert.
Then, the wheels came flying off. Curtis Samuel capped an 11 play drive with a rushing touchdown, immediately following the Goedert score. After an Eagles punt, the Panthers put seven more plays together in a drive which ended with Cam Newton finding Devin Funchess for an 18-yard score. After yet another Eagles punt, the Panthers drove down field to the one, before Newton threw the game-winning TD pass to Greg Olsen on fourth-and-goal.
Wentz managed to lead Philadelphia to the Carolina 14-yard-line, looking for one final chance to win, but then he fumbled on fourth-and-2.
Newton threw for 269 passing yards and rushed for 49 more yards, while throwing two touchdowns and no interceptions. Funchess was his leading receiver with 62 yards.
Wentz, meanwhile, had 310 passing yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. Zach Ertz accounted for 138 of those yards, with the entire team combining to rush for just 58 yards.
New Orleans Saints 24, Baltimore Ravens 23
Between Zane Gonzalez’s misses against them, Will Lutz’s field goal which luckily bounced in off the upright in their game against the Falcons, and now Justin Tucker, the Saints have been more fortunate than anybody else when it comes to kickers this season.
Following a defensive struggle in the first quarter (including on New Orleans’ first drive which went 20 plays but resulted in no points), the Ravens took a 10-7 lead into the half, with all 17 combined points coming on the three second-quarter drives.
The Ravens ended up with a 17-7 lead, but Drew Brees and the Saints scored 17 unanswered to take a 24-17 advantage with 2:15 left in the game. Joe Flacco managed to lead to the Ravens on a drive which culminated in the touchdown they needed, but then Justin Tucker missed an extra point for the first time in his career (he was 222/222 before that miss). The Saints won by that one point.
Brees threw for a rather pedestrian 212 yards and two touchdowns, but he was going up against arguably the league’s best defense. Alvin Kamara added 64 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Michael Thomas led the way with 69 receiving yards and a score.
For the Ravens, Joe Flacco had 279 yards and his own two touchdowns, with John Brown exploding for 134 receiving yards and a score.
NFC South Standings after Week 7
1. New Orleans Saints (5-1 overall record; 1-1 divisional record) - Next at Vikings
2. Carolina Panthers (4-2 overall record; 0-1 divisional record) - Next vs. Ravens
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-3 overall record; 1-1 divisional record) - Next at Bengals
4. Atlanta Falcons (3-4 overall record; 2-1 divisional record) - Next Bye