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.
New Orleans Saints 35, Detroit Lions 29
The Lions absolutely blitzed the Saints on their first two drives to start the afternoon, but their sputtering offense and overmatched defense was the perfect recipe for a blown lead.
Things really couldn’t have gotten off to a better start for Matt Patricia’s football team — an 8-play opening touchdown drive, an interception on their first defensive look, and a second TD as a result saw them get out to a 14-0 lead. Then it was all New Orleans after that.
The Saints followed that up with five consecutive drives which resulted in a touchdown, completely bludgeoning the Lions defense over the course of the second and third quarters.
The Lions tried to answer New Orleans’ 35-0 run, and they put together a 15-0 run of their own, but time just ran out on them.
Drew Brees had 246 passing yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Alvin Kamara had a game high 83 rushing yards along with a touchdown, while Latavius Murray had two rushing touchdowns of his own. Emmanuel Sanders led the team with 93 receiving yards, though it was Tre’Quan Smith who had both receiving scores.
Matthew Stafford had 206 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception (which occurred in the red zone). Adrian Peterson was the team’s leading rusher with 36 yards along with a score. Kenny Golladay had 62 receiving yards and a touchdown.
In one of the most explosive games of the week, Tampa Bay was the second NFC South team of the day to come back from an early double digit deficit.
Just like the Lions, you couldn’t have scripted a much better start for the Chargers — helped by a pic 6 and a missed Bucs field goal, rookie Justin Herbert got his upstart team out to a 24-7 lead midway through the second quarter.
With that three-possession lead and the ball, a Joshua Kelly fumble deep inside Charger territory set Tom Brady up to score his second touchdown, and turned out to be the turning point in this game. That was the beginning of four straight touchdown drives for Tampa Bay, and five consecutive scoring drives to end the game. Herbert and company just couldn’t keep up.
Brady put on a vintage performance — 369 passing yards and five touchdowns, along with the interception. Ronald Jones had lead back carries and he turned that role into 111 rushing yards. Mike Evans was the leading receiver with 122 yards and a score.
Herbert had 290 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He was also the leader of an anemic rushing attack with 14 yards. Jalen Guyton caught one pass, but it was a 72-yard touchdown and was good to make him the team’s leading receiver.
Just when they were left for dead with an 0-3 record and news that superstar running back Christian McCaffrey would be going on IR, the Panthers rattled off back to back upset victories.
The Panthers scored touchdowns on three of their first four drives, and they hung on to a comfortable lead throughout the entirety of the afternoon. The defense clamped down on Kyler Murray and the Cardinals offense, forcing them into fast drives which resulted in punts multiple times.
Carolina, meanwhile, ground down the clock, specifically on a third quarter drive which lasted over 8 minutes right as the Cardinals looked to be developing some momentum. The Panthers outmatched a Cardinals team which didn’t know what hit it in this one.
Teddy Bridgewater had 276 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Mike Davis was the leading rusher with 84 yards and a touchdown. Robby Anderson paced both teams with 99 receiving yards.
Murray had 133 passing yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a lost fumble. Murray was also the leading rusher with 78 yards. Deandre Hopkins was held in check but led the Cardinals in receiving with 41 yards.
NFC South Standings after Week 4
1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-1 overall record; 0-1 division record) - Next at Bears (TNF)
2. New Orleans Saints (2-2 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next vs. Chargers (MNF)
3. Carolina Panthers (2-2 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Falcons
4. Atlanta Falcons (0-3 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Green Bay (MNF)