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.
Las Vegas Raiders 34, Carolina Panthers 30
The Carolina Panthers had a spirited fourth quarter comeback attempt fall just short against Jon Gruden’s Raiders. Down 27-15 going into the fourth, Carolina found themselves losing by one possession late, but a questionable decision to run it with Alex Armah (and not Christian McCaffrey) on 4th down sealed their fate.
After a back and forth exchange of touchdowns and field goals throughout the first half, the Raiders pressed all the right buttons in the third quarter to win the period 10-0, scoring on both of their possessions and forcing a Panther 3-and-out in between offensive drives.
Carolina answered with a 14-0 run in the fourth quarter, which was capped off with a 75-yard Robby Anderson touchdown to take the lead, but it was a third Josh Jacobs rushing score of the day which proved to be the game winner for Oakland on their subsequent drive.
Derek Carr had 239 passing yards, one passing touchdown and no interceptions. Jacobs had 25 carries for 93 rushing yards and the three touchdowns. Rookie Henry Ruggs III was the team’s leading receiver with three catches for 55 yards.
Teddy Bridgewater had a solid Panther debut with 270 passing yards and a touchdown. McCaffrey was the leading rusher with 96 yards on 23 carries along with two touchdowns. Anderson used that 75-yard score to propel himself into the team lead with 115 receiving yards.
New Orleans Saints 34, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23
In the most hyped Week 1 matchup we have seen in quite some time, the New Orleans Saints spoiled Tom Brady’s Tampa coronation in a game which wasn’t as close as the final scoreline indicated.
The Bucs got off to the best possible start — forcing a quick punt and then marching downfield to take the lead, on a patented Tom Brady quarterback sneak no less. After that, it was all New Orleans.
Two Brady interceptions, one which was a pic, 6 and the other of which resulted in an offensive touchdown for New Orleans as a result of great field positioning, were the catalysts for an extended 24-0 Saints run which spanned the second and third quarters. Tampa being Tampa, there was an unsuccessful field goal try sandwiched in there as well.
The Bucs managed to put their own 10-0 run together to get within one possession, but they just lacked the firepower to get back into it, particularly with Mike Evans fighting through a hamstring injury. Sean Payton tried to run up the score, predictably.
Drew Brees had 160 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. Alvin Kamara totaled 67 yards from scrimmage and accounted for two scores (one rushing, one receiving). Someone must have told Michael Thomas that he was playing in the NFC Championship Game as he had a disappointing performance with 3 catches for 17 yards.
NFC South Standings after Week 13
1. New Orleans Saints (1-0 overall record; 1-0 division record) - Next at Raiders (MNF)
2. Carolina Panthers (0-1 overall record; 0-0 division record) - Next at Buccaneers
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-1 overall record; 0-1 division record) - Next vs. Panthers