The NFC South went 2-2 during week three with a mixture of brutal disappointment and relief spread between the four teams. For the Panthers, relief from finally winning a meaningful game for the first time since October. The Saints realised they can win with Teddy Bridgewater under centre.
On the other side you had the despair of the Bucs losing with their fifth round pick Matt Gay missing a last-second chip-shot field goal. Then there was the Falcons losing to the Colts, dropping a game back at 1-2.
The ‘real’ Falcons defence show up
Once again the stats don’t look too bad on defence for the Falcons. However, their efficiency issue reared its ugly head and the Falcons offence couldn’t keep up. They scored three second half touchdowns and but the Falcons’ defence couldn’t stop the Colts.
The defence allowed 379 yards and only had one sack. The Falcons had more yards per pass and per rush and conceded five of eight third downs. However, the Colts had eight more plays, showing the Falcons inability to get off the field. That said, they did make two redzone stops. Ultimately the team couldn’t recover from getting into a 13-0 hole midway through the first half.
Falcons offence hits form
The offence has been a bit off through the first two games but suddenly they hit form in Indy. The Falcons scored 24 points from six total drives. Devonta Freeman had an improved performance with 88 yards from 16 carries. Julio Jones also chipped in with 128 receiving yards and a touchdown.
This is the performance we have been waiting for from Atlanta. However, they only scored a field goal in the first half. The second half was much better but, as expected, the defence can’t hold teams to 24 points. That puts huge pressure on the offence.
Saints lean on turnovers, special teams
While Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t spectacular, he was good enough as the Saints controlled this one. Helped largely by three return TDs, New Orleans opened up a 27-7 lead and then stunted the Seahawks’ offence.
The defence allowed 515 yards, though 157 of those were in the final four minutes when up by three scores. That hides the fact that the Saints defence starred when it needed to without Brees.
The one thing they didn’t do is get a sack. However they were playing Russell Wilson, arguably the hardest QB to sack in the league.
Alvin Kamara key to Saints’ success
Kamara had 69 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving with two touchdowns. The rest of the offence combined for 104 yards. Kamara is the man who has made this offence tick and it is even more the case since Ingram left.
The one saving grace for the Saints offence is Michael Thomas, who had 54 yards and a touchdown. While Brees is injured, Thomas is the only reason that defences can’t double team Kamara. Defences need to stop him getting out of the backfield to limit the Bridgewater-led offence.
Now with a game lead when it looked like they could trail the Falcons and Buccaneers it is huge for momentum. If they can go .500 without Brees and stay in the division hunt, the Saints look more than capable of chasing for a division crown.
Image: Michael Conroy / AP Photo