Today is a big day for NFC South teams, the Buccaneers play the Falcons and the Saints play the Panthers, the outcome of which can and will drastically change the landscape in one of the most competitive divisions in the NFC.
Atlanta and the Buccaneers will duke it out for the top spot in the division while the Saints will look to sweep the Panthers for the first time since 2001 and maintain a strong foot hold towards winning the division.
New Orleans will surely keep a watchful eye on the outcome of the Falcons/Buccaneers game with the most helpful scenario being a win by Tampa as the Falcons narrowly beat the Saints in overtime and currently possess a one game lead over the defending champs.
Conversely the Saints blew out the Buccaneers in a 31-6 rout of the team labeled by their head coach Raheem Morris as “the best in the NFC”, which must make the Saints clearly the best of the best of the NFC.
However the Saints focus is on beating the Panthers and improving their division record to 3-1.
The Saints played host last game, a 16-14 win in week four, which came down to the wire ultimately being decided by the Saints defense who held Carolina out of field goal range to secure the game.
Luckily the Saints will be returning two of their top defensive weapons in the secondary as both corners, Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter, are scheduled to make their return to the lineup.
Porter suffered a minor tear to his MCL during the Saints last game against the Panthers and has since missed the last four games after undergoing minor knee surgery.
Greer injured his shoulder two weeks later against the Buccaneers missing the last two games including their most recent win against the Steelers.
Their return couldn’t come at a better time given the status of rookie corner Patrick Robinson who is officially listed as questionable this week after tweaking his ankle during the Saints first defensive series against the Steelers.
Carolina meanwhile will be without the services of top running back DeAngelo Williams who is suffering from the dreaded high ankle sprain. Williams has rushed for 361 yards this season with his one lone touchdown coming against the Saints.
Since the NFL’s divisional realignment in 2002, the Saints are 6-11 against the Panthers, including the 16-14 Saints win on Oct. 3 in the Superdome. New Orleans has winning records against the other two teams in the division, Atlanta (10-7) and Tampa Bay (9-8).
Check out Keith Null’s weekly article about the Saints on NFL.com by clicking here.