NFC South – Week 10 preview

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North and NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

Week 10 is here and – WOW – it’s been a weird season for the NFC South!

Quarterback issues…. coaching issues…. injury issues… you name it, they’ve seen it.

Now that the teams have all had their Bye Week, the rest of the season is going to break down into two battles: First Place in the Division or Top Five Pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

This week brings us a division match-up between the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons which will impact both of those battles!

New Orleans Saints (7-1) – week 9 saw the Saints enjoying a Bye and QB Drew Brees visiting his alma mater, Purdue. They got a great win too! Maybe he should go visit more often! They have a pretty healthy lead in the division but the Panthers are just two games back. They have both games against each other still coming up on the schedule (week 12 and week 17).

This week, they host the Atlanta Falcons this Sunday at 1 pm EST. I look for the Saints to win HUGE this week. If you’ve got any fantasy players on that roster, make sure you get them off the bench and back into your lineup!

 

Atlanta Falcons (1-7) – also enjoying a bye last week, the Falcons have had time to rest and get healthy to head for New Orleans. It won’t help, but it’s nice to think that break could mark a change for their season. With two division games remaining against both the Saints and the Panthers this season, the Falcons may very well win the Top Pick in the Draft battle. Their biggest competition right now for that pick is the winless Cincinnati Bengals but let’s face it, they play the Browns twice, so there’s that.

Keys to this matchup are getting to Brees and stopping the run. The Falcons defense isn’t horrible and they have their moments. Running back Alvin Kamara only has one touchdown so far and if they can keep him bottle up it may not be too bad. On offense, QB Matt Ryan needs to keep that tempo up, rely on wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to shake off defenders. And don’t discount tight end Austin Hooper – I figure he will have a key place in the game plan this week.

 

Carolina Panthers (5-3) – Monday, after the 30-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans, I would have given the Panthers a great shot at catching the Saints for the top spot in this division. And then it was announced that QB Cam Newton has been placed on IR, ending his season. Does Kyle Allen have what it takes to win this division? Nope. Sorry, but nope. Not when Drew Brees is on the team he’s trying to catch and will healthy and on the field. 

I’ll leave the talk about whether Newton will still be a Panther next year, or if head coach Ron Rivera will survive this season with his job for other folks. As of now, there are still playoff aspirations for this team and it begins this week with their trip to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers (7-2). A victory there against a solid team could give them enough confidence boost to see them through the remaining weeks, which include four division games.

The Packers have a bye week 11, so they are pretty tired right now. The defense gives up an average of 21 points per game and the Panthers are 5-1 when scoring 21 points or more this season. Their defense just doesn’t scare anyone and the Kyle Allan Era has been mistake-free. RB Christian McCaffrey should have a great day. While the odds-makers favor the Packers by 4.5, I’m taking the Road Cats to win this one.

 

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6) Week 9 saw the Bucs extend their losing streak to four games after taking the Seattle Seahawks to overtime, final score 34-40. They held the lead at half-time but their defense couldn’t stop anything in the 3rd quarter, allowing five touchdowns by Russell Wilson in the game. Plus, giving up a Safety is never good. Head coach Bruce Arians has been pretty quiet as far as QB Jameis Winston goes, nothing too harsh being said in public. However, insiders firmly believe Winston’s job is on the line and he may be out at the end of the year.

On the bright side, they face the Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1) this week. I say it’s bright because I’m giving them a chance in this game. With two first-year head coaches facing off, at least first-year with this team when it comes to Arians,  I’d give the edge to Arians over Kliff Kingsbury in that battle. While Cardinals QB Kyler Murray has talent, this is just the type of game Winston excels at and should pull out a few tricks to surprise fans.  Ok, I’m kidding. It’s going to get far worse for the Bucs before it gets better.

Injuries knocked linebacker Carl Nassib and cornerback Carlton Davis out of last week’s game and they are still being evaluated. If they are not able to play, Murray could have star-studded fantasy numbers this week. Just saying.

 

Do you think the Panthers can catch up to the Saints? Will the Falcons get the first pick in the 2020 draft? Let me know your thoughts!

 

Talk NFL Football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8

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