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Around the NFC South: Week Eight

The Buccaneers fell to 3-4 with a crushing loss in Cincinnati on Sunday. How did the rest of the division fare this week?

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Week eight was extremely forgettable for the Buccaneers. It was especially forgettable for quarterback Jameis Winston, who was benched in the second half after throwing his fourth interception of the afternoon. With Tampa Bay down 34-16, Ryan Fitzpatrick entered the game and led the team back to a 34-34 tie... before the defense allowed Andy Dalton to lead the Bengals down the field to set up Randy Bullock for a game-winning 44-yard field goal. The Bucs fell to 3-4 and have now benched their 2015 No. 1 overall pick heading into a crucial game against the Panthers next Sunday.

Tampa Bay’s loss allowed the idle Falcons to move into a third-place (or last-place) tie in the division. As far as the Saints and Panthers are concerned, 2018 is going extremely well. Let’s check in on week eight results from the division’s top two teams.

New Orleans Saints (6-1)

The Saints won their sixth straight game on Sunday, beating the Vikings 30-20 in Minnesota. A slow start from New Orleans didn’t matter. A 23-0 run from the midway point of the second quarter until late in the fourth quarter turned a 13-7 deficit into a 30-13 lead and there was no coming back for the Vikings. It was still just a 20-13 game in the third quarter, but a 45-yard pick six by P.J. Williams pretty much put Minnesota away for good. Despite being outgained 423 to 270, the Saints came away victorious. At 6-1, they own the the second-best record in the NFC.

In the victory, Drew Brees finished with just 120 yards and a touchdown (to one interception) on 18-of-23 passing. Alvin Kamara found the end zone twice, once on the ground and once through the air. Michael Thomas, as usual, was the Saints’ leading receiver with five catches (on six targets) for 81 yards. In his New Orleans debut, Eli Apple led the defense in tackles with nine.

Up Next: vs. Los Angeles Rams (8-0)

Carolina Panthers (5-2)

The Panthers also continued to roll on Sunday, earning a 36-21 home win over the Ravens. After Baltimore took an early 7-0 lead, Carolina scored 27 straight points. After that point, the closest the game got was 27-14. A Cam Newton touchdown run early in the fourth quarter put the Panthers up 33-14, effectively shutting down any of the Ravens’ comeback hopes. Carolina outgained Baltimore 386-325 and forced three turnovers in the win.

Newton completed 21 of his 29 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns while adding 52 yards and a touchdown on the ground. One of his touchdown passes went to Christian McCaffrey, who also ran for 45 yards and another score. DJ Moore led all receivers with five catches (on six targets) for 90 yards. The Panther defense got turnovers from three different players. Vernon Butler recovered a fumble, while Captain Munnerlyn and Mike Adams both came up with interceptions.

Up Next: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-4)

Atlanta Falcons (3-4)

The Falcons were off this week.

Up Next: at Washington Redskins (5-2)