Home » Blog » NFC South Preview: Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta and Carolina vs. New Oreans

NFC South Preview: Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta and Carolina vs. New Oreans

Week 17 for the NFC South will end with only one team headed to the playoffs, the Atlanta Falcons (13-2). They’ve had a stellar season and expectations are high for the team’s post-season run. On Sunday, they’ll play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-9).

In the division’s second game, the New Orleans Saints (7-8) will play the Carolina Panthers (6-9). For the Saints, it’s been a long season with its disappointing losses and different coaches. Both teams will be playing for pride.

Tampa vs. Atlanta

Falcons QB Matt Ryan

Regardless of Sunday’s outcome, the Falcons will end the season as the NFC’s top team and last week, they grabbed their No. 1 seed for January’s playoffs.

With a win, the Falcons will tie its record for victories with an 8-0 season on the home field–last seen 14 years ago–while quarterback Matty Ice will go for a franchise record of passing touchdowns with No. 32.

Coach Mike Smith has said the team is going for a win on Sunday but whether he sits some of its key starters remains to be seen.

For Tampa it’s another season without the playoffs and with a Sunday loss, it will be their sixth straight one.

One bright spot this season has been the team’s rookie running back Doug Martin. He is third in the league with total scrimmage yards of 1,766 but sometimes his quarterback Josh Freeman is erratic.

To date, Freeman has a 54.9 percent pass completion rate and in his last two games has four picks. But he does have a team single-record with his 3,843 yards.

The quarterback has taken responsibility for the team’s recent skid but along with Martin, his wide receiver Vincent Jackson has been an asset this season. The player has had a career-high season with his 69 receptions and 1,334 yards for his inaugural season with the Bucs.

Add in one more touchdown and Jackson will tie his best season; with 89 additional yards, he’ll set a team record.

Atlanta, who’s won four consecutive games against Tampa, will make it a fifth one at -3, 45.5 o/u.

Carolina vs. New Orleans

Panthers QB Cam Newton

After a 2-8 start, the Panthers have won their last four of five games and quarterback Cam Newton has been playing better. But is it enough to save coach Ron Rivera’s his job with his 12-19 record over two seasons?

In his first season last year Newton showed promised but underwent an early sophomore slump. A 7-9 season will seem disappointing and change may be headed to Carolina next season.

But in his last eight games, Newton has 14 touchdown passes and three picks, boosting his passer rating to 99.3 after a 75.2 figure from the season’s first seven games thanks to five touchdowns and eight picks.

Then there’s the Saints; they also bring a disappointing story to this match up. After going to the playoffs in the last four years, this will come to an end this season. On Friday, its suspended coach Sean Payton signed a hefty five-year extension and the team has to already be looking forward to and returning to business as usual.

The Saints did rally in the season’s second half after an 0-4 start but with a 7-4 record since then and a good OT win against the Dallas Cowboys, it wasn’t enough to get to the playoffs.

One of its contributing factors has been the team’s weak defense. This season, they have give up 6,512 yards; with 281 more, they could hit the 6,793 record set by the Baltimore Colts in 1981. Per game, the Saints give up 434.1 yards-40 yards greater than the team right behind them.

Quarterback Drew Brees has been the team’s usual bright spot and has 4,781 yards (62.7 percent completion), 39 touchdowns and too many interceptions at 18.

In their first meeting their season, the Panthers won 23-16 but this time around the Saints will win (-4.5, 54 o/u).


  • 100%