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Around the NFC South: Week 10

It wasn’t a banner weekend for the division, but the Saints stayed hot.

NFL: New Orleans Saints at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers dropped their third straight game on Sunday, falling 16-3 at home to the Washington Redskins. The defense finally stepped up for Tampa Bay, but its 501 yards went for just a field goal as Chandler Catanzaro missed two kicks and the offense turned the ball over four times. Both of those led to a ridiculous 0-for-5 mark in the red zone. It was yet another embarrassing display of football for head coach Dirk Koetter and his team. The loss pushed the Bucs one game closer to clinching a sub-.500 record for the second straight season.

For the first time in what seems like forever, there were struggles from teams in the NFC South that aren’t the Bucs. Of course, the Saints weren’t one of those teams. Let’s get into what unfolded around the division in week 10.

New Orleans Saints (8-1)

The Saints extended their winning streak to eight games on Sunday with a 51-14 blowout road win over the Bengals. The two teams were tied 7-7 after one quarter, but New Orleans followed up with 44 straight points to put the game away with ease. Cincinnati added a late touchdown for nothing other than a stat-booster, which obviously means very little in a 37-point home loss. The Saints outgained the Bengals 509-284, holding possession for 39:46. They finished the day with 33 first downs to Cincinnati’s 13. The defense forced two turnovers to complement the offensive outburst.

Drew Brees finished the afternoon 22-of-25 for 265 yards and three touchdowns. He and Michael Thomas continued to be one of the better quarterback-receiver duos in the league, linking up eight times for 70 yards and two scores. Mark Ingram showed up big for New Orleans as well, putting up 58 receiving yards and a touchdown in addition to his 104 rushing yards. Marcus Williams and Eli Apple came up with interceptions of Andy Dalton to lead the defense.

Up Next: vs. Philadelphia Eagles (4-5)

Carolina Panthers (6-3)

The Panthers were embarrassed on Thursday Night Football in a 52-21 road loss to the Steelers. Christian McCaffrey got Carolina on the board first with a 20-yard touchdown catch from Cam Newton, but Pittsburgh took over from there. The Steelers outscored the Panthers 31-7 in the rest of the first half before scoring the first 21 points of the second half. Carolina had no chance of getting back in the game and finished with just 242 yards while turning the ball over twice. Pittsburgh put up 457 yards on a Panther defense that had been playing pretty well for much of the season.

Newton completed 23 of his 29 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns on the night, but was intercepted once. McCaffrey kept his big season going with 138 total yards and three total touchdowns. The problem for Carolina was that no one else factored in on offense, with Greg Olsen finishing as the second-leading receiver at four catches for 40 yards. The defense wasn’t able to keep up with the Steelers regardless, making for a forgettable week overall.

Up Next: at Detroit Lions (3-6)

Atlanta Falcons (4-5)

Speaking of forgettable games, the Falcons had one of their own on Sunday. They fell 28-16 to the Browns on the road to drop below the .500 mark once again. After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Atlanta came back to take a 10-7 lead. It looked like the Falcons would take that lead into the locker room, but Cleveland went 80 yards in eight plays to take a 14-10 lead into the locker room. The Browns stayed hot after the break, putting up two touchdowns to extend their lead to 28-10. An Atlanta touchdown with 4:24 left in the game brought the deficit to 12 points, but there would be no comeback. The Falcons were outgained 427-382, allowing rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield to have the best game of his young career. He completed 17 of his 20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns.

Matt Ryan threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns on 38-of-52 passing, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a poor rushing performance by the Atlanta backfield. Tevin Coleman ran 11 times for 44 yards, finishing as the team’s leading rusher. Julio Jones found the end zone for a second straight week and finished with 107 yards on seven catches to go with the score. Ryan and Mohamed Sanu both lost fumbles, with Sanu’s leading to a Cleveland touchdown.

Up Next: vs. Dallas Cowboys (4-5)