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 article series’ sole purpose will be to take a look at the weekly performances of the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers and to look at how the NFC South is shaping up week in and week out.
Chicago Bears 23, Carolina Panthers 16
Say what you want about the Bears and their troubles at the quarterback position, but thus far they’ve gotten out to a 5-1 record and they’ve done so by owning the NFC South. Nick Foles and company are one win against the Saints away from sweeping this division.
The game started and ended for the Panthers with an interception thrown by Teddy Bridgewater. The first one resulted in an immediate Bears touchdown, which proved to be the difference in this game. The second one killed all hope for a comeback. Carolina played from behind all game.
Chicago was led by their defense as is customary. The unit forced four Panther turnovers (counting a late turnover on downs). Foles and the offense used predominantly good field positioning and the ability to play from ahead to do just enough in scoring 23 points. They led by as much as 14 in the second half, and the defense prevented a resilient comeback attempt by Carolina.
Foles had 198 passing yards, a touchdown and an interception. David Montgomery was the leading rusher with 58 yards. Allen Robinson had 53 receiving yards as Foles’ favorite target.
Bridgewater had 216 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike Davis paced the run game with 52 rushing yards and a score but he also fumbled once. D.J. Moore had a game high 93 receiving yards.
In arguably the most hyped matchup of the regular season thus far, Tampa Bay beat the brakes off of the Green Bay Packers in the marquee Aaron Rodgers vs. Tom Brady duel.
The spotlight was on Brady and Rodgers, but it was the Tampa defense which stole that spotlight, after the Packers got out to a 10-0 lead no less. Just when it looked like Green Bay would take a commanding lead, Jamel Dean came up big with a pic 6 to put his team on the board. Three plays later, Rodgers was intercepted again.
That set the tone as the Bucs scored touchdowns on their next three possessions en route to a 38-0 scoring run to close out the rest of the game. Following drives of 54 and 90 yards to begin the game, the Packers offense never had another drive which saw them go more than 28 yards.
Brady didn’t need to put up gaudy yardage totals with his defense flexing its muscles in this one; he had 166 passing yards, along with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Ronald Jones was an engine with 113 rushing yards and two scores. In a throwback performance, Rob Gronkowski was Brady’s leading receiver with 78 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers had his worst game in a while, with 160 passing yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions (both of which led to Bucs touchdowns). Aaron Jones was completely contained to the tune of 15 yards on 10 carries. DeVante Adams made his return from injury and totaled 61 receiving yards to lead the team.
NFC South Standings after Week 5
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2 overall record; 0-1 division record) - Next at Raiders
2. New Orleans Saints (3-2 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next vs. Panthers
3. Carolina Panthers (3-3 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next at Saints