Written by: Joe Carlino @joecarlino14
After a thrilling start to Week One where some teams performed well and others fell short of expectations, the NFC South was back for its second slate of games, including two contests in primetime. Here’s where the division stands entering Week Two*, complete with an analysis of their respective contests and previewing the next opponent:
*- how the division looks from first to last place
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
Week Two Result: Won 20-14 @ Carolina
Analysis: This is a surprising statement to write: Jameis Winston played good against Carolina. After enduring a lightning delay early in the first quarter (something Bucs fans are more than used to), Tampa came out rolling, consistently generating pressure on Cam Newton (Shaq Barrett: 3.0 sacks). I’ve been sold on Chris Godwin for a while now, and he’s making a claim that he should be the Bucs No.1 target, because Mike Evans just can’t seem to find that chemistry with Jameis currently. Yes, Carolina was shaky and has problems (more on that later), but when your quarterback can play turnover-free ball, it’s usually the easiest recipe for success. Jameis did just that, and now the Bucs might actually be in business before their long time away from the Bay.
Up Next: Sunday afternoon vs. New York (NFC). Ronde Barber will be enshrined into the Bucs Ring of Honor in this contest. It’s the last home game for the Bucs in Tampa until November. Eli Manning is still the Giants quarterback. All said, Tampa has a great chance to improve to 2-1.
Atlanta Falcons (1-1)
Week Two Result: Won 24-20 vs. Philadelphia
Analysis: Atlanta needed to win this game against the Eagles, but almost did everything they could to give the game away. I’ll admit, the first two interceptions Matt Ryan threw were, at the worst, the result of hurried throws. But that third one to Hooper in the redzone with the backup tight end open right in front of him? Unacceptable, and even he admitted such in the postgame presser. That said, I was pretty impressed with Dan Quinn’s defense in this contest, consistently swarming around the field and making plays. Desmond Trufant had two picks (one sitting down) for the first time in his career, Ricardo Allen played enforcer in the two-minute drill, and the Falcons did just enough late to send the fans home happy. Also, can’t forget the best wide receiver in the NFL Julio Jones, who scored twice in this contest, including a back-breaking 54-yard score on a jailbreak screen. He now has half his touchdown total from 2018 in two games.
Up Next: Sunday @ Indianapolis. The Colts are coming off a close 19-17 win over the Titans, so this will be an interesting contest to say the least. Since taking over for the retired Andrew Luck, Jacoby Brissett has done just enough to keep Indy alive in their first two games. That said, this week is a great matchup historically for Indy, who are 14-2 lifetime against the Falcons. I’m not usually much of a betting person (that belongs to Blitzalytics’ Jeremy Dennis and Co.), but I might take the home team just on historical records.
New Orleans Saints (1-1)
Week Two Result: Lost 27-9 @ Los Angeles (NFC)
Analysis: Did New Orleans upset the football gods in 2012 with Bountygate, and now they’re paying for their sins? Everyone and their mother knows they got hosed in January (despite having multiple opportunities prior to win) and they had another big play called back due to an inadvertent whistle. For a guy like Cam Jordan, that really stinks, and I feel for him. That said, New Orleans just couldn’t get anything really going offensively against the Rams. Alvin Kamara: 45 yards rushing. Michael Thomas: 89 yards receiving. Drew Brees: possibly out for six weeks with a UCL injury to his throwing hand (length of injury TBD). Also, while New Orleans was clearly out to right the wrong from that day, historically they haven’t won in the Coliseum since 1989. That streak continues for another few years.
Up next: Sunday afternoon @ Seattle. A second straight opponent against the NFC West, this time coming against a Seahawks team in the same location as the “Beastquake”. It remains to be seen if Brees will be available for this contest, but one of the best backups in the NFL does reside on Bourbon Street: Teddy Bridgewater. Expect some fireworks here from both sides, maybe even another game that comes down to the wire
Carolina Panthers (0-2)
Week Two Result: Lost 20-14 vs. Tampa Bay
Analysis: Cam Newton is hurt. There’s really nothing else to say here. I know the man has struggled with being consistently accurate in his career, but that was abysmal, even for a former MVP winner. Also, despite this belief, the question still remains for Ron Rivera and Norv Turner: you guys had a fourth-and-inches from the Bucs 2, and you call a bootleg Philly Special instead of spiking it over with a 6’5” quarterback? Because of that development, Carolina deserved to lose the game in my book, and now have more questions than answers at 0-2.
Up Next: Sunday afternoon @ Arizona. Despite their 0-1-1 record, the Cardinals right now are anything but a pushover. Kyler Murray went toe-to-toe with Lamar Jackson, and could very well do it again against another former Heisman winner in Cam. If there’s any hope for Carolina fans, it’s this note: the last time their squad went 0-2, they won eight of their next nine contests to take the NFC South title. But that’s probably not going to happen again if Cam continues to play the way he did Thursday night.