No one’s giving the Falcons great odds to get to the playoffs, but there’s still a path in the NFC South, and Atlanta’s intent on driving down it until the gas runs out. On Sunday against the Bears, they won and put themselves within striking distance of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bucs were off this week, but two teams in the NFC South earned victories and one lost yet again. Let’s look at the standings heading into Week 12, even though there’s still a game to go in Week 11.
NFC South standings
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 5-5
Atlanta Falcons: 5-6
New Orleans Saints: 4-7
Carolina Panthers: 3-8
The Buccaneers were off this week and catch the Browns next, so chances are they’ll remain atop this division at least a little longer. They’re the only team at .500, though the Falcons can fix that next week. There’s not much else to say, but for the moment Tampa Bay is obviously still the team to beat in the NFC South.
The Falcons made it a little more nerve-wracking than perhaps it needed to be, but clawed their way to a win against the Bears on Sunday, making up ground on Tampa Bay and getting the job done on defense in a way they haven’t consistently managed to in 2022. If that’s going to continue, Atlanta has a shot to at least temporarily take over the NFC South, but the so-so state of the Falcons offense is still a bit of a trouble spot. If this team can get clicking on both sides of the ball, I still do like their chances of making a big, late push for the division.
Unfortuantely, the Saints also are trying to play catch-up, though they have further to go. Fresh off back-to-back losses, New Orleans put down an awful Rams team by a touchdown, getting them within some sort of striking distance of the division lead. To get there, they’ll need Atlanta to wilt and beat both the 49ers and the Buccaneers over the next two weeks, and given how banged up and woeful the Saints have been of late, I very much doubt that’s going to happen.
Instead, they’ll likely just be trying to stay out of the basement with the Panthers. Carolina sort of had Atlanta’s number this year—they beat them once handily and nearly beat them a second time—but they haven’t had much luck against anyone else and are now alone in last place in the NFC South. They’re a pretty decent bet to remain there, given how much work has to be done to that roster.
What do you think these standings will look like in a week’s time?