Just two weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were on the brink. The team had lost six of seven games and another ‘L’ would’ve been the death blow to their season. So of course, they now find themselves sitting on top of the NFC South standings following Sunday’s victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Because that’s how unserious this entire division is.
The NFC South has been the NFL’s worst division for two years straight and will oddly have one of the more compelling races heading into the final month of the 2023 season. Well, the word “compelling” is doing a lot in that last sentence. Let’s try comical. Yeah, that works. The Bucs, Falcons, and New Orleans Saints all share a 6-7 record heading into Week 15 and all have a chance to win the division despite glaring flaws. Search Twitter (or X, whatever) and you’ll find fans of these teams clamoring for their head coaches to get the boot at the end of the year.
Tampa Bay is a team that wasn’t expected to do much in the first year of the post-Tom Brady era and has been underwhelming for much of the campaign. The offense has cracked 30 points just once this season and the defense has been maddeningly inconsistent for a Todd Bowles-inspired unit. The team has folded against better competition this year, as their Week 1 win over the Vikings remains their only victory over a team that is currently above .500. And that could change soon if Minnesota’s offense continues to sputter down the stretch.
Check social media every Sunday and you’ll get the full experience of Atlanta fans being frustrated with their team and head coach Arthur Smith (and his mustache). We know that blown leads are in the DNA of the Falcons organization, but its an extra gut punch when your last three losses have been decided by scores in the final minute of play. Smith has drawn the ire of the fan base for a multitude of reasons, including his bizarre usage of first-round draft picks TE Kyle Pitts and RB Bijan Robinson. Throw in QB Desmond Ridder’s mediocre play and you can understand the anger in Atlanta at the moment.
And then there’s New Orleans, which has lost three of its last four games and could be running on fumes. As the oldest team in the NFC this season, injuries have taken their toll as seemingly every important player has been banged up at some point. That includes QB Derek Carr, who home fans at the Superdome have started to boo. Things don’t appear to be copacetic between the QB and his teammates, evidenced by Carr getting into a heated argument with center Erik McCoy following a sack on Sunday.
And despite these team’s fatal flaws, all of them have the chance to host a playoff game come January! The NFC South title will come down to which one of these teams can stumble the least over the last month and while the product may be unwatchable at times, it will still be funny to watch them play hot potato with the division lead. The winning team will earn the right to get dusted by either the Eagles or Cowboys in the Wild Card round, while the losers will most likely fire their head coach and potentially have a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft (which could be argued as a win for the future).
But hey, if there’s one thing the Bucs, Falcons, and Saints have going for them, it’s the fact that they’re not the Carolina Panthers right now. Because buddy, that situation is an absolute train-wreck.