NFC South: Week 7 Preview

Kate Arhar
Senior Sports Editor AFC North / NFC South

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

The NFC South saw some teams struggling to get going this season but one of them has started to stand out and separate itself from the pack: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While the New Orleans Saints (after a bye week) and the Carolina Panthers are hot on their heels, the Buccaneers just LOOK better than everyone else at this point.

And don’t even get me started on the Atlanta Falcons. Firing head coach Dan Quinn and promoting defensive coordinator Raheem Morris from to the interim head coach position may have been a no-brainer after an 0-5 start, but PLEASE don’t let their victory over the Vikings this past weekend make you think much has changed.

Atlanta Falcons (1-5)

After going up by 20 against the Minnesota Vikings, this was the kind of thing flaming up all over Twitter. Let me tell you something, Dan Quinn was not the reason they blew big leads or got off such a horrendous start. But sometimes, players see their head coach get fired like this and suddenly a light bulb goes off and they get motivated to actually play better. Plus, their first few opponents aren’t as sure what to expect as far as a game plan goes so don’t be surprised if they get another couple of wins pretty quick.

They did indeed come out victorious against the Vikings – 40 to 23 – so they’ve got a bit of that “winning feeling” back. This week they host the 2-3 Detroit Lions and will have their hands full. I expect the defense to shine, however, by keeping pressure on quarterback Matthew Stafford. Falcons QB Matt Ryan seems to be over whatever “funk” he was in and this should be another good performance for their offense.

I’ll take the Falcons in this one:  31 – 20

Carolina Panthers (3-3)

The Panthers have run hot and cold this year. They started with two losses but then added three wins. That streak came to a halt vs the Chicago Bears this week leaving them at 3-3. Now, far be it for me to say the Bears are just pretenders and the Panthers got robbed. In the NFL, you are what your record says you are, so at this point, the Panthers are just mediocre.

They trail the Saints in the standings due to a New Orleans bye week but they’ll have their chance to move up into the second spot this week as they head into The Big Easy.

QB Teddy Bridgewater has done a decent job with a 71% completion but his six touchdowns vs five interceptions record tell more of the story. The fact that he’s been sacked 12 times isn’t about his quickness in getting rid of the ball but more the inconsistent play of his offensive line. He’s not going to be able to stay healthy if that line doesn’t improve pretty quickly.

I’ll save my prediction for the next section as I look at the Saints….  🙂

New Orleans Saints (3-2)

If you are one of those folks who thought QB Drew Brees should just retire already, you can leave now. That’s right, I said it. You may go. I don’t have time for that kind of attitude around here!

But seriously, QB Taysom Hill ain’t the answer and Brees has looked better than most predicted so far this season. They had back-to-back wins before a bye in Week 6 and I don’t see that period of rest slowing them down any.

They’ll be hosting the Panthers in a division match-up where they desperately need to show they are gunning for the top spot. Their line has only given up seven sacks this season and I’m predicting ZERO this week.

Running back Alvin Kamara is hitting is stride and leads the team with seven touchdowns. I don’t see the Panthers defense being able to stop him this week and I actually will be surprised if he doesn’t get two more on Sunday.

Saints roll easily past the Panthers: 38 – 18

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)

Heavy Sigh. It’s truth time. I am BEYOND surprised at how well the Bucs have been doing lately. I did not give QB Tom Brady enough credit for being able to whip this offense into shape and then watching tight end Rob Gronkowski get his first touchdown in two years? When I’m wrong, I’m totally wrong! Go big or go home, right?

With 14 TD’s and only 4 INT’s, Brady doesn’t look anything but fabulous, and he’s still doing what he did in New England – making mediocre guys shine. RB Ronald Jones and WR Mike Evans are having great seasons and don’t tell me they were on your top fantasy radar in the preseason because we all know that’s not the truth!

Week 6 saw them completely demolish QB Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 38-10. If that wasn’t a “Statement Game,” then I don’t know what would be. This week they head to Las Vegas to – maybe – face the Raiders. There are some Covid-19 concerns with the Raiders right now so don’t be surprised if the game gets postponed.

Regardless of any of that, the Buccaneers defensive front should be able to easily manhandle QB Derek Carr so expect at least three sacks this week. Now, they did put up a good show against the Kansas City Chiefs, but frankly, I credit the Chiefs with failing more than I credit the Raiders with succeeding.

My bold prediction: Buccaneers have to work for a tough 38-35 victory.

Those are my thoughts – how do you think the NFC South will fare this week?


Talk NFC South with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8 

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