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Around the NFC South: Week 11

The Saints are already starting to run away with the division.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers hit the road again on Sunday and once again came back home with a loss. It didn’t matter that they were playing the Giants, who had been one of the worst teams in the NFL through the first nine games. Why didn’t it matter? Because the Bucs themselves are one of the worst teams in the league this year. That’s a fact at this point. Their 38-35 loss dropped them to 3-7, which keeps them at the bottom of the NFC South.

The rest of the division didn’t fare to well in week 11, except for the Saints, who are already running away with the division crown. Let’s check in with them and the rest of the NFC South.

New Orleans Saints (9-1)

The Saints furthered their status as a Super Bowl favorite with a 48-7 blowout of the Eagles on Sunday. The defending champions never had a chance. Just three minutes into the second quarter, New Orleans already led 17-0. After Philadelphia scored to cut it to 17-7, the Saints scored the final 31 points of the game. Drew Brees and his offense outgained the Eagles 546-196 in what turned out to be an absolutely dominant performance. Sunday marked the sixth time the Saints have scored 40 points or more this season and the eighth time they have scored over 30.

Brees was lights-out all day, throwing for 363 yards and four touchdowns on 22-of-30 passing. Rookie Tre’Quan Smith had a breakout game, catching 10 of his 13 targets for 157 yards and a touchdown. Michael Thomas added four catches of his own for 92 yards and a touchdown, while Mark Ingram ran for 103 yards and two scores on 16 carries. In addition to only allowing 196 total yards, the New Orleans defense forced three turnovers in the win.

Up Next: vs. Atlanta Falcons (4-6)— Thanksgiving (8:20)

Carolina Panthers (6-4)

The Panthers fell 20-19 to the Lions in Detroit on Sunday. After falling behind 13-7 late in the third quarter, they responded early in the fourth with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Cam Newton to Curtis Samuel. Graham Gano missed the extra point, which kept the game tied at 13. Detroit then scored to take a 20-13 lead with 5:13 left, but Carolina clawed back again. Newton found D.J. Moore for an eight-yard touchdown with 1:07 to go, leaving the Panthers an extra point away from tying the game. Instead, head coach Ron Rivera opted to go for a two-point conversion and despite a receiver getting open, Newton failed to complete the pass. That led to the team’s second straight loss. It outgained the Lions 387-309, but couldn’t secure the victory.

Aside from that last incompletion and an earlier interception, Newton was solid. He completed 25 of his 37 passes for 357 yards and three touchdowns. Moore was the Panthers’ leading receiver, bringing in seven of his eight targets for 157 yards and a score. Christian McCaffrey didn’t have a huge game, but he was still effective. He ran for 53 yards on 13 carries and caught six passes for 57 yards. Luke Kuechly led the team in tackles with 11 (seven solo), with 2 12 going for a loss.

Up Next: vs. Seattle Seahawks (5-5)

Atlanta Falcons (4-6)

The Falcons continued their disappointing 2018 season on Sunday with a 22-19 home loss to the Cowboys. The early first three quarters of the game were ugly, with Atlanta leading 9-6 heading into the fourth. From there, Dallas went on a run. Dak Prescott ran for a four-yard touchdown to give his team the lead before Ezekiel Elliott ran for a 23-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 19-9. However, the Falcons weren’t out if it. They came back with a Matt Bryant 21-yard field goal and a 34-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones. That 10-0 run tied the game at 19, but the Cowboys marched right down the field to win the game on a Brett Maher 42-yard field goal as time expired.

Ryan was efficient, but couldn’t do enough. He threw for 291 yards and a touchdown (to one interception) on 24-of-34 passing, finding Jones most often. The veteran receiver caught six of his nine targets for 118 yards and a touchdown. The Atlanta backfield continued to miss Devonta Freeman. Tevin Coleman did run for 58 yards on eight carries, but Ito Smith ran for just 10 yards on six carries. Bryant finished four-for-four on field goals, with his long coming from 53 yards out.

Up Next: at New Orleans Saints (9-1)— Thanksgiving (8:20)