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NFC South Roundup: Week 10

Mark Menard
November 10, 2018 - 12:33 pm
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As we flip the page to the second half of the season, the top three teams in the division have cause to believe positive fortunes lie ahead, even if one of those three has already suffered a humbling setback.

 

PITTSBURGH 52, CAROLINA 21

The Panthers got Week 10 off to an early start, and things certainly didn't go as they planned. Making the trip north to Pittsburgh for a Thursday night showdown with the Steelers, Carolina jumped out to a 7-0 lead, then surrendered 24 straight points. After Christian McCaffrey's second score of the night looked like it would stem the Steeler onslaught, the dam broke completely for the Panthers defense as Pittsburgh reeled off another 28 straight points to put this one away, burying Carolina 52-21. Now at 6-3, the Panthers still lead the NFC wild-card pack but they may have lost some crucial footing in the race to the divisional crown... if the Saints can capitalize.

 

CINCINNATI (5-3) vs. NEW ORLEANS (7-1)

The Saints got a huge victory last weekend, handing the Rams their first loss of the year in the Superdome and perhaps gaining the inside track for the overall #1 seed in the NFC. Then on Thursday they were gifted a Panthers loss that could provide a two-game cushion at the top of the NFC South standings. But for either to mean anything, they have to keep winning. This week they head to Cincinnati where the Bengals sit rested and ready after a bye week, but the matchup should favor New Orleans. Cincy will be without their best receiver A.J. Green and also sport the league's worst defense, one that's allowing  what's bordering on historic amounts of yardage and nearly 30 points per game. The Saints come in ranked third in points scored and are the only team in the top six with just eight games to their credit rather than nine, meaning it could be a very long afternoon for the Bengal D.

 

CLEVELAND (2-6-1) vs. ATLANTA (4-4)

The Falcons finally finished the long journey back to dead even last week, besting Washington to reach 4-4. It's the first time Atlanta sits at or above .500 since Week 2. Now they're in position to go from treading water to swimming forward as they take a trip to face a Browns team in somewhat disarray. Cleveland made Hue Jackson the season's first head coaching casualty two weeks ago, installing defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in his place, but it hasn't resulted in any reversal of fortune yet. The Browns have lost four straight, taking their record from a somewhat hopeful 2-2-1 to a downtrodden 2-6-1. The Falcons come in on a three-game roll, now the second-longest active winning streak in the division, and are poised to continue their rise back to relevance if they can stay the course this week.

 

TAMPA BAY (3-5) vs. WASHINGTON (5-3)

In their bid to re-embrace the majesty of Fitzmagic last week, Tampa Bay ended up coming up just a bit short to the Panthers when a late Carolina touchdown put the game out of reach. The Bucs' biggest issue continues to be a defense that is hemorrhaging points to opposing teams. Tampa has surrendered at least 21 points in every single game this season, and opposing offenses have scored 30 or more in six of the Buccaneers' eight games. That's not a winning formula, and is the main reason Tampa sits at 3-5. As for Washington, they come into this one still sitting atop the NFC East but perhaps humbled a bit after getting blown out by the Falcons last week, a loss that halted a three-game winning streak. The question will be whether Washington can keep Ryan Fitzpatrick from hitting his stride and turning this game into a shootout.

All three remaining games in the NFC South Week 10 slate begin at noon on Sunday. WWL's coverage of Saints-Bengals begins at 8 that morning.

 

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