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NFC South Week 15 Preview

The teams of the NFC South are coming off a rough week 14, in which three of the four lost. Surprisingly enough, the lone winner was the Carolina Panthers, which improved to 4-9 on the season. The Saints dropped their third in a row, falling to 5-8, while the Buccaneers also took a big hit to their playoff hopes, falling to 6-7, two games back of the wild card leaders. The division champion Falcons, which lost to Carolina, didn’t need a win as much as New Orleans or Tampa, but still would have liked to clinch home field throughout the playoffs. So what can we expect out of the NFC South in week 15? Here’s the rundown for this weekend’s games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-7 at New Orleans Saints 5-8

The Saints are all but eliminated from playoff contention, while the Buccaneers are in desperate need of a victory this week to stay in the hunt. Tampa Bay came oh-so-close to defeating the Saints earlier this season, after throwing an apparent game winning touchdown that was later reversed after review determined that the receiver went out of bounds and then became the first player to touch the ball, eliciting an illegal touching penalty, which ended the game.

However, last time the teams met, New Orleans was surging. Both teams enter this weekend’s game on three-game losing streaks, but New Orleans’ is even more disappointing, considering the high expectations put on them at the beginning of the season. But knowing Drew Brees and his will to win, we should expect New Orleans to give their all, even though the postseason is out of reach.

And the match-up, much like last time, still favors the Saints. New Orleans’ 2nd ranked pass offense should demolish the Buccaneers pass defense, which is the worst in the league. When you add in the home field advantage for the Saints, they should have the clear edge. Take NO to cover -points and spoil Tampa Bay’s playoff hopes.

New York Giants 8-5 at Atlanta Falcons 11-2

Look for New York to get after Matt Ryan and upset the Falcons

The Giants have the slimmest advantage of any division leader and not only that; they have two teams in Washington and Dallas nipping at their heels, just one game back in the NFC East. However, if any team can handle that kind of pressure towards the end of the regular season schedule, it’s the defending champion Giants, a team that routinely steps up their game in the final weeks.

As evidenced by their record, the Falcons don’t have too much to worry about, but they would certainly love a win to help them inch closer to the coveted reward that is home field advantage in the playoffs. They’ve got a good chance to accomplish it this season, especially with two home games remaining on the schedule, including this week against New York. It’s worth noting that Atlanta is 6-0 at home this year.

This game should be one of the most competitive of the day, with the teams matching up extremely well on paper. Both teams are exceptional through the air, although New York is a bit more balanced with a better running game. On the defensive side, it’s close, but Atlanta is a bit stronger and fields a unit that feasts on opponents’ turnovers. I like the Giants here though, coming off a 52-point performance a week ago. This is the time of year when they play their best and I expect them to bring it again to Atlanta and get the clutch win. Take the Giants to cover +1 and win outright.

Watch Cam Newton outduel Philip Rivers this Sunday

Carolina Panthers 4-9 at San Diego Chargers 5-8

This match-up features two preseason dark horses that didn’t quite pan out. There’s really nothing at stake here, other than coaches’ jobs, as both squads try to finish with a respectable record. There’s not too much to say about this one. Carolina is surprisingly the more balanced team and although they are on the road, it shouldn’t matter much, since San Diego is only 2-4 at home this season. I like the underdog in this one. Take Carolina to cover +3 and win outright.


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