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 2:
The Panthers had a bounceback performance following their loss in Atlanta last week, by beating a Bengals team that was undefeated heading into this game.
Despite the injuries to their offensive line, Carolina managed to hold Cincinnati’s front seven at bay — not allowing a single sack and gashing them in the run game. Cam Newton wasn’t prolific in passing the ball, but he did account for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing), while Christian McCaffrey rushed for a career high 184 yards. This is the first time in McCaffrey’s career where he’s reached triple digit rushing yards.
Carolina’s defense, meanwhile, was unkind to a lackluster Andy Dalton — intercepting the Red Rifle four times. Rookie Donte Jackson accounted for two of those picks.
Star Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green left in the middle of this game with a groin injury. Already without starting running back Joe Mixon, they may be hurting when they come to Atlanta in Week 4.
The magic finally ran out for Ryan Fitzpatrick in Monday night’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers; and then it reappeared in the fourth quarter before running out again. Fitzpatrick threw three first half interceptions, and the Bucs defense couldn’t stop a nosebleed. It truly looked like the Steelers would run away with it at the break.
Fitzpatrick rallied the troops with an excellent second half effort, however, and a pair of Chris Boswell missed kicks opened the door for a comeback attempt which would fall three points short for the hosts.
Fitzpatrick became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 400 yards in three consecutive games, but the team’s four first half turnovers were too much to overcome. Mike Evans caught a touchdown in his third straight game to go along with 137 receiving yards.
Ben Roethlesberger was brilliant as well, with 353 passing yards and three TD passes. Juju Smith-Schuster and Vance McDonald both went for over 110 receiving yards to account as Pittsburgh’s leaders, and Antonio Brown caught his second TD pass of the season.
Things suddenly look very congested in the NFC South.
NFC Standings after Week 3
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1 overall record; 1-0 divisional record) - Next at Bears
3. Carolina Panthers (2-1 overall record; 0-1 divisional record) - Next Bye
4. Atlanta Falcons (1-2 overall record; 1-1 divisional record) - Next vs. Bengals