After taking sole possession of first place in the NFC South with their victory over the Broncos last week, the Buccaneers stayed on top in Week 4 with a 38-31 shootout win over the Chargers at Raymond James Stadium. So, through one quarter of the 2020 season, it’s Tampa Bay as the top dog in the division. What a time to be alive.
At 3-1, the Bucs have a one-game lead for first place over two teams that are tied at 2-2. Interestingly enough, it’s Bruce Arians’ team that has seemed to look the most consistent so far this season, with mixed results in New Orleans, a rebuild happening in Carolina and a disaster unfolding in Atlanta. Whether the Bucs can keep that up remains to be seen, of course.
It’s Wednesday. You know what that means. It’s time for a look at what went down around the NFC South this past weekend!
New Orleans Saints (2-2)
Things didn’t start out so well for the Saints on Sunday in Detroit, falling behind the Lions by two touchdowns inside of five minutes. But there was absolutely no panic from Sean Payton’s team, as it went on to score five straight touchdowns to take a 35-14 lead. Two of those scores came from Latavius Murray, while two more came from fellow UCF alum Tre’Quan Smith. Alvin Kamara got one of his own, and the Saints had a comfortable lead early in the third quarter. Detroit ended the game on a 15-0 run, but it couldn’t get the ball back after the touchdown and two-point conversion that cut it to 35-29. That ended up being the final, with a 35-0 run for New Orleans doing the damage.
Drew Brees had a good day, completing 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 246 yards and two touchdowns to one interception. He connected for those two scores with Smith, who had four catches for 54 yards as well. Without Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders was the team’s leading receiver, catching six passes for 93 yards, averaging 15.5 yards per catch. Kamara was his usual dangerous self, running for 83 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries while adding three receptions for 36 yards. Murray carried the ball 14 times for 64 yards and the two scores, serving as a great complement to Kamara.
Up Next: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (1-3) — Monday Night Football
Carolina Panthers (2-2)
The Panthers upset the Arizona Cardinals at home on Sunday, getting out to a 21-7 halftime lead before finishing things off in the final 30 minutes for a 31-21 win. Mike Davis continued to do a great job stepping in for the injured Christian McCaffrey, scoring from one yard out halfway through the first quarter to give Carolina a 7-0 lead. An 18-yard rushing touchdown by Teddy Bridgewater made it 14-0 later in the quarter, and the Panthers didn’t look back from there. Two passing touchdowns from Bridgewater helped extend the lead to 28-7 in the third quarter, and from there, the Carolina defense did enough to hold on. Matt Rhule’s team outgained the Cardinals 444-262, leading to a second straight win despite being without McCaffrey.
Bridgewater accounted for three touchdowns in the game, completing 26 of his 37 passes for 276 yards while rushing for 32 yards on six carries. Davis ran for 84 yards and a score on 16 carries, while Reggie Bonnafon added 53 yards on 10 carries. Robby Anderson was the team’s leading receiver, catching eight passes for 99 yards. Davis even got in on the passing game too, bringing in five of his six targets for 27 yards. Time of possession was a big key for Carolina, as it held the ball for 37:08 to Arizona’s 22:52.
Up Next: at Atlanta Falcons (0-4)
Atlanta Falcons (0-4)
The Falcons’ disastrous start to the 2020 season continued on Monday Night Football, as they lost 30-16 to the Packers at Lambeau Field. It was easy for Green Bay, as it got out to a 20-3 halftime lead before coasting the rest of the way. With Davante Adams held out, the Packers needed contributions from elsewhere, and they definitely did. Tight end Robert Tonyan answered the bell, catching Green Bay’s second, third and fourth touchdowns, providing a reliable presence for Aaron Rodgers, especially in the red zone. The Falcons got within 27-16 with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t muster up much more of a comeback than that. They were outgained 403-327 in the game, leading to their fourth straight loss.
Matt Ryan completed 28 of his 39 passes for 285 yards, but he failed to throw a touchdown pass while getting sacked four times. Todd Gurley picked up the slack for Atlanta’s offense, carrying the ball 16 times for 57 yards and two touchdowns. Julio Jones returned to the lineup, but he failed to get much going, catching just four passes for 32 yards. Olamide Zaccheaus was Atlanta’s leading receiver, catching eight passes for 86 yards. Third-down efficiency was a major difference in the game, with the Falcons going 3-of-12 and the Packers going 6-of-11.
Up Next: vs. Carolina Panthers (2-2)