Week 2 is wrapping up in the NFL and the NFC South looks totally different from just last year. The Falcons bounced back from a poor Week 1 to churn out a tough win against the Philadelphia Eagles. There is not much reason for optimism outside of Atlanta.
Let’s start with the Carolina Panthers. Sitting at 0-2, the team is struggling on both sides of the ball. Most problematic is Cam Newton, who is having such a poor season many are wondering if he is injured, or even worse, done. He has completed only 56.2% of his passes and has an alarming 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. What those stats fail to show is his struggle to accurately drive the football field. Newton needs a strong turnaround to get out of the NFC South’s basement.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are annual “dark horses” to win the division and make the playoffs, but have failed to make it to postseason in over a decade. The biggest problem has been Jameis Winston’s inconsistencies. The hope was quarterback guru Bruce Arians could work his magic and limit Winston’s poor decision making. We have yet to see that happen yet, as their absolutely stacked pass catchers have produced 402 yards in two games. Winston just tossed 3 picks while producing only 194 yards against the 49ers. This looks like another lost year for the Bucs.
The Saints looked fine heading into Week 2. They were then blown out by the Los Angeles Rams, but most importantly, Drew Brees tore ligaments in his hand and is reportedly out for six weeks. While we may joke that his arm is shot or that he is aging, he’s an integral part of that team. Teddy Bridgewater could be solid but he cannot compare with a future Hall of Famer. The Saints will be lucky to be within a game or two of .500 by the time Brees returns, if he returns on schedule. It is tough to guess considering his age.
That really leaves a solid path to the top of the NFC South for the 1-1 Falcons. In fact, Atlanta may have their easiest and clearest path the the playoffs they have had in years. With the team seemingly on the way up, there may be no one to stop them.