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.
Here is how the Falcons’ division opponents fared in Week 1:
Saints fans were all too quick to celebrate the Falcons’ narrow road defeat against the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night. Their celebration would surely be compounded on Sunday when they hosted the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs, who were without starting quarterback Jameis Winston due to suspension.
Everything went according to plan at the start of the afternoon, with Alvin Kamara punching in the opening touchdown to cap off a six-play scoring drive. Then, the mighty Saints defense led by the incomparable Marshon Lattimore proceeded to get roasted over an open campfire named Ryan Fitzpatrick.
The Harvard alum proceeded to repeatedly gash the hosts, looking unstoppable on his way to throwing for 417 passing yards, accounting for five total touchdowns (four passing; one rushing), and not turning the ball over once. Mike Evans consistently burned Lattimore on his way to an impressive 147-yard receiving performance, including a beautiful 50-yard touchdown catch which saw the supposed shut-down corner finish the play on his face.
This performance likely brings back old memories of awful defense, and a near comeback attempt fallen short by Drew Brees and the offense, for Saints fans. There’s a special nickname for this phenomenon down in New Orleans — the perfect recipe for a 7-9 season. The Bucs imposed their will on the defending NFC South champions, and they left the Bayou with a victory.
In one of the sloppiest football games of the day, the Carolina Panthers did away with the Cowboys in a home matchup where they never trailed.
The plan for the Panthers in this one was simple but effective — contain Ezekiel Elliot by stacking the box, and make them beat you through the air. QB Dak Prescott and the Dallas receiving corps could do no such thing, however, despite facing favorable coverages due to the stacked box.
There wasn’t a passing touchdown to be spoken of in this one, and it was the home team which found themselves more capable of moving the ball, with Dallas repeatedly grinding to a halt in their own territory over the course of the first half. Cam Newton and Alex Armah accounted for the two Carolina rushing TDs, with Elliot punching it in in the late stages for Dallas. The Cowboys had two chances at potential game-tying drives at the end of the game, but ended up getting stifled both times.
The victory doesn’t come without a cost for the Panthers, however, as starting tight end Greg Olsen and starting right tackle Daryl Williams both suffered what looked to be serious injuries. Olsen was spotted in a walking boot on the sideline, and Williams was carted off. It’s unlikely that we see either of them in Atlanta next week. Star linebacker Luke Kuechly also suffered a knock, but he ended up finishing the game.
NFC South Standings after Week 1
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0 overall record; 1-0 divisional record)
- Carolina Panthers (1-0 overall record; 0-0 divisional record)
- Atlanta Falcons (0-1 overall record; 0-0 divisional record)
- New Orleans Saints (0-1 overall record; 0-1 divisional record)