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; hopefully we’ll be able to bask in their failures together.
This one could not have started off worse for Jameis Winston and the Bucs — a pick 6 on the first drive, and a pick 6 on the ensuing drive where the touchdown was called back but the interception still stood.
Tampa Bay suffered three interceptions, a fumble, and a blocked field goal in four of their first five drives, but Houston kept letting them hang around. Down only 17-3 after this wild sequence of events, Winston put together back to back touchdown drives at the end of the half to tie it.
The second half was far less exciting, with both teams killing the clock and taking far better care of the football. Nobody got into the end zone, and Houston kicked two field goals to eclipse Tampa’s one.
Deshaun Watson recorded 184 passing yards, no touchdowns, and one interception. He was also the leading rusher with 37 yards. Kenny Stills paced the team with 57 receiving yards.
Winston had 335 passing yards, one touchdown, and four interceptions. Ronald Jones had 77 rushing yards and a touchdown. Breshad Perriman had a game-high 102 receiving yards.
Carolina opted to put an end to the Kyle Allen era so that they could launch the Will Grier experiment. It did not work out.
The Colts scored on their first drive, and Nyheim Hines returned Carolina’s ensuing punt (following a three and out) for a touchdown. It all went downhill from there for the Panthers.
Grier and company couldn’t muster anything more than two field goals, while Brissett’s Colts kept progressively adding to their lead throughout the game. Hines scoring a second punt return touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter was a true back breaker and felt comical at that point.
Brissett recorded 119 passing yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He also added 37 rushing yards and a touchdown. Marlon Mack had 95 rushing yards and a touchdown. T.Y. Hilton was the leading receiver with 26 yards.
Grier had 224 passing yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions. Christian McCaffrey tallied 173 yards from scrimmage as the team’s leading rusher and receiver.
An upset looked to be in the making early on in this one, as the Titans got out to a quick 14-0 lead. That, however, was followed by five consecutive Tennessee punts, in which time the Saints scored 24 unanswered points.
Not counting a drive in which the half ended, the Titans allowed four consecutive touchdowns spanning the second and third quarters. While the Tennessee offense woke up late in the game, their defense kept them on the back foot.
With an opportunity to tie it or take the lead late in the game, Tennessee’s Kalif Raymond fumbled the ball in Saints territory to pretty much seal the game, though he was definitely injured on the play.
Drew Brees had 279 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Alvin Kamara recorded 80 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Michael Thomas led both teams in receiving with 136 yards; he also had a touchdown.
Ryan Tannehill had 272 passing yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Dion Lewis had 68 rushing yards as the featured back in Derrick Henry’s absence. Tajae Sharpe was Tennessee’s leading receiving with 69 yards and two touchdowns.
NFC South Standings after Week 16
1. New Orleans Saints (12-3 overall record; 4-1 division record) - Next at Panthers
3. Atlanta Falcons (6-9 overall record; 3-2 division record) - Next at Buccaneers
4. Carolina Panthers (5-10 overall record; 1-4 division record) - Next vs. Saints