The NFC South is horrible. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are on a bye week, but every other NFC South team lost today. None of them can play defense worth a damn. Three of those teams have genuine franchise quarterbacks, but it doesn't matter: they're still losing way too many games.
Which leads me to one shocking conclusion: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are two games out of first place in the NFC South.
Yes, the team that's been blown out twice, one by the Atlanta Falcons. The team that was 40 seconds away from being winless. The team that's been inept throughout the season. That team, is now two games out of first place in its division.
|NFC South standings|
|New Orleans Saints||2-4|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1-5|
To be fair, the Bucs aren't really two games out of first place. They're two-and-a-half games behind the Carolina Panthers, and given that they're 0-3 in the division and 0-5 in the conference, they're liable to lose every tiebreaker at the end of the season. So for all practical purposes, they're three games out of first place.
That's a lot, but it's hardly insurmountable. And it's not all that unrealistic for the Bucs to turn around their team quite suddenly. Most of their problems are due to individual breakdowns on specific plays, rather than massive schematic issues, as well as a slew of injuries.
It's not impossible for the defensive scheme to finally click for most of the back seven. That's been the biggest problem this season. And it's not that the Bucs don't have the personnel to run this defense, but that the personnel is just not doing what they're supposed to be doing. If they can get their defense to be more disciplined, they still have the same pieces to be a pretty good team. Or at least win a few more games.
As we said before the weekend, it's a small ray of hope. A very, very small one. But a little bit of hope is better than no hope at all.