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State of the NFC South: Where does the division stand after Week Seven?

Graphic by Robert Robinson

Written by: Joe Carlino @joecarlino14

Week Seven is now complete, and we’re almost near the midway point of the season. It’s honestly really surprising at how fast the NFL’s 100th itineration has gone, and while some teams are vastly overperforming, there are a few that have been underperforming, including a few which many never expected. In the NFC South, this division doesn’t change much from Week Six’s overall standings, but the gauntlet is merely two weeks away, and I’m looking forward to how all four teams perform during that span. With that, here’s where the division stands entering Week Eight*, complete with an analysis of their respective contests and previewing the next opponent:

*- how the division looks from first to last place

New Orleans Saints (6-1)

Week Six Result: Won 36-25 @ Chicago

Analysis: What’s that song by DJ Khaled again? Oh yeah, it’s “All I Do Is Win”. And that’s precisely what the Saints continue to do week in and week out: win football games. And this particular contest was arguably their toughest challenge because even though they’ve been winning without Drew Brees, they had to defeat the vaunted Bears defense without playmaker Alvin Kamara. Challenge accepted it seems because New Orleans walked right into Soldier Field and not only dominated the Bears on offense, but their defense stymied Mitch Trubisky and completely threw off his team. The Saints did suffer a loss in this game, however, as cornerback Eli Apple apparently tore his ACL in this contest. That said, the only reason this game was anywhere near the final score was Chicago came roaring back late in the contest, including recovering an onside kick.

Up next: Sunday vs. Arizona. The Saints have one final game to play before their bye week, and Drew Brees is allegedly going to resume practicing with the team this week. Of course, it’s almost a guarantee that Bridgewater will get the nod so Brees can truly be 100% coming out of the bye. Their opponent this week? A Cardinals team that’s currently on a three-game win streak and just defeated the Giants on the road in a major rainstorm. Of course, the confines of the Superdome prevent such weather implications from occurring, but it still doesn’t change the fact that when “Who Dat” Nation is rocking because of a dominant team, winning in the Bayou is near impossible, especially for a rookie like Kyler Murray.

Carolina Panthers (4-2)

Week Seven Result: BYE

Analysis: After defeating the Buccaneers in London, Carolina returned home for a much-needed bye week. It enables more time for Cam Newton to recuperate from his injury, but one has to wonder if the Panthers aren’t trying to ship him somewhere behind the scenes.

Up Next: Sunday @ San Francisco. Head coach Ron Rivera announced earlier this week that the Panthers would start Kyle Allen again against the undefeated 49ers. Of course, when the iron is hot, continue to ride it until it’s cool. Now, do I think the Panthers can upset the 49ers and end their undefeated season? Probably not, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a fan of this league, it’s that anything’s possible on game day.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)

Week Seven Result: BYE

Tampa Bay, like Carolina, was on a bye week following their trip to London. This gave them time to recoup before more traveling across the country.

Up Next: Sunday @ Tennessee. The Bucs’ time away from Raymond James continues for two more weeks. First up for the squad? A roughly 10-hour drive north to Nashville for a date with the Ryan Tannehill-led Titans. Sure, the Titans could possibly give Mariota the nod here and try to give fans a repeat of their 2015 matchup (when Mariota had a perfect passer rating in his debut), but the reality is that, with Tannehill leading the team, they went into Los Angeles and (with some major help from their competition) defeated the Chargers. Jameis starting might give Tennessee two straight weeks of assistance from opposing offenses, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Atlanta Falcons (1-6)

Week Seven Result: Lost 37-10 vs. Los Angeles (NFC)

Analysis: This feels like 2007 meets 2014 all over again for Falcons fans. I know I used that line before, but it just continues to ring merits. Last week against the Cardinals, they fell behind early, stormed back late, and barely lost on a heartbreaking miss. This week, however, was anything but, as the team was absolutely manhandled by the Rams offense and defense. In their worst offensive performance of the season, Atlanta couldn’t get anything going right for them, and now the team might be going into their next contest without Matt Ryan, who was injured on a strip-sack by Rams DT Aaron Donald. I could go off about the defense, but that’s just beating a dead horse by now. Missed tackles, coverage breakdowns, you name it. This season is a nightmare for members of the Brotherhood, and while I do feel their pain, I also believe the players and coaches that they’re frustrated too. After all, they’re trying their best, it’s just not producing the desired results. I implore any football fan to justifiably defend their team if their level of production was like Atlanta this year.

Up Next: Sunday vs. Seattle. This season honestly can’t get any worse for the Falcons, yet their next opponent is a Seattle team which has been one of the top NFC squads since Russell Wilson was drafted there. Quinn’s seat continues to get hotter, despite owner Arthur Blank stating he has his “full support”. Usually, when an owner comes out and says that line, you’re on borrowed time. Maybe Quinn can make it to the end of the season, and the new regime can come in with the draft capital the team is currently stocking (they just traded Sanu to the Patriots). For now, they’re almost guaranteed to enter the bye week at 1-7, but who knows? Maybe they can shock the system and defeat Quinn’s former team.

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