NFC South Division Breakdown
By Kyra Hallett
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in the NFC South, which in year’s past has been dominated by the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons, leaving the Carolina Panthers and Bucs at the bottom. This year has been slightly different with the Saints at the bottom and Falcons at the top.
Atlanta Falcons: 4-0
The Falcons have won their games by margins of two to 24 points of 24 points. They have not completely dominated games this season, but they pull out the wins.
In Week One, they faced the Kansas City Chiefs on the road, winning 40-24. Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 299 yards with three touchdowns. Wide receiver Julio Jones was the top receiver of the game with 108 yards and two touchdowns.
In Week Two, the Falcons were home facing the Denver Broncos and won 27-21. Ryan threw for 219 yards and two touchdown. Wide receiver Roddy White was the top receiver of the game with 102 yards and one touchdown.
In Week Three, they faced the San Diego Chargers in San Diego winning 27-3. Once again Ryan threw for over 200 yards with 275 for three touchdowns, one interception and was sacked twice. Micheal Turner was the top running back for the game getting 80 yards and one touchdown. Tight end Tony Gonzalez was the top receiver of the game with 91 yards and one touchdown.
In Week Four, the Falcons faced division rivals in the Panthers, winning 30-28. Ryan beat the 300-yard mark with a 369 yard game, threw three touchdowns, one interception and sacked seven times. Turner had 103 yards as the top running back in the game. White was the top receiver with 169 yards and three touchdowns.
The Bucs will face the Falcons Week 12 at home and end the season in Atlanta for Week 17. The Falcons will be a challenge for the Bucs as the Falcons have been a challenge for everyone. They will need to try and stop Ryan. The trick to the Falcons is that they have several weapons and it is impossible to cover them all in one play.
Carolina Panthers: 1-3
The Panthers have looked strong but not as strong as they ended last season. Most of their games have been real close except for the blow out in Week Three versus the New York Giants.
In Week One, they faced the Bucs in Tampa losing 16-10. Quarterback Cam Newton threw for 303 yards for one touchdown, sacked three times and threw two interceptions. Wide receiver Steve Smith was the top receiver and had 106 yards.
In Week Two, the Panthers were home against the Saints and won 35-27. Newton threw for 253 yards and had one touchdown. He rushed for 71 yards and had one touchdown. Smith had 104 yards.
In Week Three, they faced the Giants losing 36-7. Newton threw for 242 yard, was sacked twice and threw three interceptions. Smith received for 86 yards.
In Week Four, they played they Falcons and lost 30-28. The Panthers and Falcons kept going back-and-fourth in leading the game but the Falcons came out on top. Newton threw for 215 yards with two touchdowns and was sacked three times. He rushed for 86 yards and one touchdown. Smith received for 52 yards.
The Bucs will face the Panthers again in Week 11 in Carolina. Once again, Newton will be a big threat and they will need to try and keep him in check. They must also protect Josh Freeman from their front four.
New Orleans Saints: 0-4
The Saints have been the biggest shock this season. They are missing their head coach since he is suspended due to bounty-gate, but they still have their all-star quarterback Drew Brees. Each week, Brees usually leads the league in yards but the team just cannot win. They have lost all their games by eight points or less.
In Week One, the Saints were home against the Washington Redskins losing 40-32. Brees threw for 339 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions and was sacked twice. Wide receiver Lance Moore was the top receiver with 120 yards and one touchdown.
In Week Two, the Saints faced the Panthers losing 35-27. Brees threw for 325 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and was sacked once. Moore only had 30 yards.
In Week Three, the Saints were home against the Chiefs. Brees had 240 yards, three touchdowns, one interceptions and sacked four times. Moore had 70 yards and one touchdown.
In Week Four, the Saints faced the Green Bay Packers and lost 28-27. Brees had his biggest game so far throwing for 446 yards with three touchdowns and sacked twice. Moore received for 67 yards.
The Bucs will take on the Saints at home in Week Seven and will face them in New Orleans in Week 15. The Saints are fighting in every game, they are just getting unlucky in the outcome. The Bucs will need to control Brees even though he throws for over 200 yards in every game. The trick will be to control the receivers that he throws to and not let them get anymore yardage after the catch.
The Bucs are not in an easy division and will have to fight in every game they play the rest of the season. With how the Falcons are playing, they will likely win the division, so for the Bucs to make the playoffs they need to keep the Panthers and Saints in check.
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Kyra Hallett is a freelance writer and a Multimedia Sports Journalist. She has experience covering Tampa Bay sports in many outlets including Examiner.com. Her dream job would be to work with the athletes and their fans. You can view some of her work at KyraHallett.com or here at Examiner.com.