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 52, Minnesota Vikings 33
A Christmas Day showcase was a historic day for Alvin Kamara, and a complete beatdown of the putrid Vikings defense on national television. The Saints clinched the division with this victory.
The Saints had two drives which ended with a Drew Brees interception. They scored a touchdown on seven of their other eight drives, and kicked a field goal on the only one which didn’t result in a TD. Punter Thomas Morstead cashed an easy game check.
To their credit, the Minnesota offense did what it could to stay in this game through three quarters (it was 31-27 at the end of the third), but they couldn’t keep up with New Orleans scoring touchdowns on every drive.
Brees threw for 311 passing yards, had no touchdowns and threw two interceptions. Alvin Kamara was a showstopper — 155 rushing yards and he broke the single game NFL record with six (6!!!) rushing touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders led the way through the air with 83 receiving yards.
Kirk Cousins had a good game with 291 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and no interceptions. Dalvin Cook had 73 rushing yards along with a score. Adam Thielen had a game high 97 receiving yards along with a score.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 47, Detroit Lions 7
Speaking of awful defensive performances, the Lions displayed absolutely no resistance against Tom Brady and the Tampa passing attack on national television one day later. When Matthew Stafford got injured in the first quarter they had no offense either.
Missing many all of their defensive coaches, the Lions allowed Brady to have his way with them up and down the field. The Bucs put together five touchdown scoring drives in six tries in the first half, and were up 34-0 at the break. Brady was even taken out for the second half as the Lions then struggled to stop Blaine Gabbert.
Detroit’s only points, meanwhile, came from a punt return touchdown. Chase Daniel and David Blough did nothing to trouble the Tampa defense.
Brady had 348 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a half of work. Ke’Shawn Vaughn was the leading rusher with 62 yards. Mike Evans went off for 181 receiving yards and two scores.
Daniel was the leading passer with 86 yards. D’Andre Swift had 45 rushing yards. Danny Amendola had a team high 37 receiving yards.
Carolina Panthers 20, Washington Football Team 13
The Panthers completed an upset win against the Washington Football Team, and they gave the Falcons the inside track to the number 3 overall pick as a result.
Carolina’s scoring started with a muffed punt which was recovered for a touchdown, and it continued with back to back touchdown scoring drives on offense on their next two possessions. They led 20-0 going into the halftime break.
Dwayne Haskins could get nothing going for Washington, stringing together a couple of field goal drives and more drives than that which resulted in turnovers. He was promptly benched for Taylor Heinicke in the fourth quarter. Heinicke led a touchdown scoring drive but it was too little too late at that point.
Teddy Bridgewater had 197 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception. Curtis Samuel was both the leading rusher (52 yards) and receiver (106 yards).
Haskins had 154 passing yards and two interceptions. Heinicke had an impressive 137 passing yards and a score in just the fourth quarter alone. Antonio Gibson had 61 rushing yards. J.D. McKissic was the leading receiver with 77 yards and a touchdown.
Standings after Week 15
1. New Orleans Saints (11-4 overall record; 5-0 division record) - Next at Panthers
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10-5 overall record; 3-2 division record) - Next vs. Falcons
3. Carolina Panthers (5-10 overall record; 1-4 division record) - Next vs. Saints
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-11 overall record; 1-4 division record) - Next at Buccaneers