New Orleans Saints (9-2 overall, 3-1 division)
- Last week: 34-31 win over the Carolina Panthers
- This week: 7:20 pm/cst on Thursday at Atlanta Falcons (3-8)
- Notes: Sunday’s thrilling victory puts the Saints on the brink of clinching the NFC South title for the third straight year. A win on Thursday in Atlanta would accomplish that feat. The win also keeps New Orleans right in the middle of the race for the #1 seed in the NFC. They remain 1 game behind San Francisco, while sharing the same record at 9-2 with Seattle. Teddy Bridgewater’s first win in a Saints uniform over the Seahawks back in Week 3 is crucial, giving the black and gold the tiebreaker. The 49ers come to the Superdome in two weeks for what could be a battle for 1st place in the conference. A win for the Saints would give them the edge over whoever wins the NFC West out of San Francisco and Seattle.
Atlanta Falcons (3-8 overall, 2-1 division)
- Last week: 35-22 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- This week: 7:20 pm/cst on Thursday vs New Orleans Saints (9-2)
- Notes: After going on the road and pulling off impressive victories over the Saints and Panthers in consecutive weeks out of their bye, the Falcons fell back to Earth on Sunday when the Buccaneers went in to Atlanta and dominated them. Dan Quinn’s long term future with the team remains in question with what has been one of their most disappointing seasons in recent history. A season sweep of the Saints is on the table this week and could go a long way in saving his job.
Carolina Panthers (5-6 overall, 1-3 division)
- Last week: 34-31 loss to the New Orleans Saints
- This week: 12:00 pm/cst on Sunday vs Washington Redskins (2-9)
- Notes: Carolina’s playoff hopes took a big hit when their comeback effort fell short in New Orleans on Sunday. With the NFC South nearly out of reach, the Panthers’ best hope is to sneak in to the postseason in one of the Wild Card spots, but those chances are slim. Currently 3 games behind the current #6 seed Minnesota Vikings (8-3) with five games left, Carolina is going to have to go on a hot streak and get some help down the stretch. Essentially, things aren’t looking good. Ron Rivera could end up on the hot seat, as well, with back to back under-achieving seasons under second year owner David Tepper.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7 overall, 2-3 division)
- Last week: 35-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons
- This week: 12:00 pm/cst on Sunday at Jacksonville Jaguars (4-7)
- Notes: The roller coaster that is the Buccaneers season continues, as the team bounced back from getting dominated at home by the Saints to being the ones doing the dominating in Atlanta against the Falcons. A 4-7 record is certainly below Bruce Arians standards, but the first year Tampa Bay coach has to be pleased with some of the positives the team has had this year. What they decide to do at the quarterback position with Jameis Winston in the final year of his contract could come down to how he performs in these final five games.
NFC South Standings
- New Orleans (9-2)
- Carolina (5-6)–[4 games back]
- Tampa Bay (4-7)–[5 games back]
- Atlanta (3-8)–[6 games back]