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Falcons Flying High in NFC South

Well, the first quarter of the 2016 season is over and here is a review of each teams performance thus far.

Atlanta Falcons

Without doubt, the team of the NFC South so far is the Falcons. After an opening season defeat against an impressive Bucs team in the Georgia Dome, the Falcons have not looked back.

Two away wins on the bounce against the Raiders and Saints was then followed up with a great win at home against the Carolina Panthers. Still struggling defensively with a poor pass rush, the Falcons are relying on their attacking prowess to win games.

The RB tandem of Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman absolutely destroyed the Saints before the Julio Jones show took over against the Panthers.

Matt Ryan is looking elite however Matt Ryan has always had the ability to be an elite QB, it’s the consistency which is Ryan’s biggest problem.

Regular readers of the NFC South articles will remember that I had the Falcons as the bottom dwellers of the division this season and although it is too early to revise my initial predictions, this season has started well for Atlanta although with road games against Denver and Seattle in back to back weeks, I can’t see anything but a .500 record after six games.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I can’t remember an NFL bubble bursting as quickly as the Bucs did after their impressive showing in the Georgia Dome on the opening day of the season.

Effective on both sides of the ball, the Bucs lived up to the pre-season hype with Jameis Winston picking up the first NFC Offensive Player of the week.

Unfortunately, those heady days feel a lifetime ago after a spectacular collapse in week 2 against what is quickly turning out to be an underperforming Cardinals team, a dreadful defeat at home to the Rams, who up until that point have averaged 4.5 points over their first two games but somehow put up 37 points in Tampa, and then an initially spirited but ultimately mediocre showing against the Broncos.

In the NFL, injuries are part and parcel of the game but the Bucs injuries have been significant and none more so than Doug Martin who limped off with a hamstring injury early in Cardinals game. Not only is Martin one of the top RBs in the league, he also opens up Winston’s play-action passing game.

Unfortunately, the Bucs have became one dimensional in Martin’s absence and Tampa can only hope that their running back returns to full health after the Panthers game.

Carolina Panthers

An opening season defeat on the road against the Broncos due to a missed last second field goal didn’t set too many alarm bells ringing, however, the performances and results since must be causing concern for last year’s NFC Champions.

Against the Broncos, the Panthers struggled against the run, whilst against the Vikings it was Minnesota’s defence which prevailed by smothering Carolina’s most offensive weapon, Cam Newton.

Broncos and the Vikings didn’t throw too many deep balls so the questions marks over the Panthers secondary in the absence of Josh Norman still remained, however, they were answered unceremoniously by a devastating display from Matt Ryan and Julio Jones in Atlanta.

To compound the early season problems, Cam Newton took another significant head knock against the Falcons and is currently in concussion protocol with back-up QB Derek Anderson looking favourite to start against Tampa on Monday night in a game in which neither team can afford to lose.

New Orleans Saints

If it wasn’t for the Chargers 4th quarter generosity, the Saints would be sitting 0-4. Drew Brees is one of the best QBs in the game but even he will struggle to win games when his team is conceding almost 33 points per game.

Although, it is also worth mentioning that if it wasn’t for a bolshy two point conversion by the Raiders in the final minute in the opening game of the season in New Orleans then the Saints could have been sitting only one win behind the early divisional leaders.

The games in between the Raiders and Chargers were a loss in NY against the Giants and then a battering from the Falcons at home when Atlanta’s running-backs were awarded the freedom of the Mercedes Super Dome.

If the Saints are to challenge for the division then they have to find ways of stopping the opposition from scoring and they have to do it quick as their future Hall of Fame QB’s Super Bowl window is closing.

Photo Copyright: Atlanta Falcons

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