NFC South Recap, Week 7

The Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers each overcame second-half deficits to win in Week 7, while the New Orleans Saints fell at home to the Cleveland Browns. Welcome to the wacky, parity-driven NFL.

Atlanta Falcons (5-2)

What went right? Roddy White has taken his place among the league's elite receivers. White's 11 receptions for 201 yards and two TDs helped the Falcons edge the Cincinnati Bengals, 39-32. Atlanta amassed a season-high 452 yards of total offense and heads into its bye week all alone in first place.

What went wrong? The game shouldn't have been that close. The Falcons lead 24-3 at halftime, but turnovers and mistakes allowed the Bengals to score 22 unanswered points and take a brief 25-24 lead in the third quarter.

What question needs to be answered? The Falcons continue to beat the teams they should, but they don't make it look easy. Can they use their bye week to figure out how to put a hungry opponent away early? They'll have to, because they welcome the Bucs to Atlanta in two weeks in a game that could be for first place in the division.

New Orleans Saints (4-3)

What went right? Sorry, you don't lose to the Arizona Cardinals and Cleveland Browns in a span of three weeks and get anything positive said about you. The Super Bowl honeymoon is over.

What went wrong? Drew Brees threw four interceptions and had two of them returned for TDs by David Bowens. The Saints' special teams fell victim to several trick plays, including a lateral on a punt return and a 68-yard run on a fake punt.

What question needs to be answered? There is more than one question that needs to be answered here, but we'll start with "What's wrong with Drew Brees?" He's thrown 10 interceptions through seven games after throwing 11 all of last year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)

What went right? QB Josh Freeman threw a TD pass to Cadillac Williams with 10 seconds remaining to give the Bucs an 18-17 victory over the St. Louis Rams. Tampa overcame an ugly first half and the defense held the Rams to 96 yards after halftime, helping Freeman lead his fifth fourth-quarter comeback in just 15 career starts.

What went wrong? As nice as the comebacks are, they wouldn't be necessary if this team would stop falling behind. The Rams had a 17-3 lead at halftime behind two short TD passes by Sam Bradford.

What question needs to be answered? Is there a running back controversy here? Cadillac Williams gained just 12 yards on four carries while rookie LeGarette Blount gashed the Rams for 72 yards on 11 carries. The Bucs are going to need a solid ground game if they have any visions of postseason play; Blount may just be the one to provide it.



Who is the biggest surprise in the NFC South? Discuss inside the message boards.




Michael Stolp is a graduate of Wilkes University with a degree in Communications. He grew up in Piscataway, N.J., and recently relocated to Charlotte, NC. To follow his personal blog, click here.


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