Riding high after a divisional conquest, the Saints will host the Cowboys who are on their own winning streak. Matt Ryan and the Falcons look to bounce back against the Ravens, who may be starting their QB of the future, Lamar Jackson. Last but certainly not least, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be seeking revenge against the Panthers.The Panthers are having some problems of their own, but are still in the playoff hunt.
The Saints are red hot and on a roll!
Can anyone stop the Saints? As it stands right now it looks as if the Saints are unbeatable. Then again, everyone said the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would lose to them the first week of the season. Any given Sunday, or in this case Thursday, right?
The Cowboys are coming off wins against two sub .500 teams and a Redskins team that lost their starting QB. Dallas has already ruled out Sean Lee, which gives the rookie 1st rounder Leighton Vander Esch the start once again. The Cowboys front four wants to test the Saints offensive line in hopes of pressuring Drew Brees into making some mistakes. It may be a futile effort though as Tre’Quan Smith may be returning. By himself, it may not mean much, but adding another weapon to the disposal of Brees is never a good thing. A win here and the Saints will have 11 wins in a row. If Dallas loses, they will snap their own streak and allow the Eagles to get that much closer to overtaking them in the NFC East.
Flying not so high, the Falcons look to rebound.
After playing on Thursday night the Falcons have an extended week to bounce back and “Rise Up” against the Ravens top five defense. With the Falcons defense bleeding points Baltimore will look to start either Lamar Jackson or Joe Flacco. The offense should post some strong numbers. In an attempt to further exploit the Falcons, undrafted rookie running back Gus Edwards will try to post another 100 yard plus game. With the Falcons surrendering on average 123.7 yards to opposing rushers a game, Edwards has a good chance of that.
The struggling Falcons have lost three in a row due, in no small part, to their inability to run the ball to set up the pass. It’s week thirteen and so far this season the Falcons only have one game with over 100 yards rushing. With Baltimore only allowing 92.1 yards rushing per game, the Falcons will have to be creative in the rushing attack and lean heavily on Matt Ryan and the wide receivers. A loss would almost certainly mean the Falcons will miss the playoffs.
Revenge vs reality. Who are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
The Panthers will roll into Tampa looking to boost themselves in the fight for a wild card spot. Having already destroyed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense once, they look to repeat that effort from their first meeting. Christian McCaffery will lead a rushing attack that torched and confused Tampa in their first match up. Having dropped three in a row the Panthers are in search of a win. If they can get Devin Funchess back from injury this week, it will give the Panthers an additional target to spread the ball around.
The bigger story line may be that of Jameis Winston starting his second game since being benched. He had a good outing against the 49ers posting a full game with no turnovers. The Panthers run defense will aim to stop running back Peyton Barber and force Winston and the Buccaneers to throw. In their last match, up Mike Evans was held to a single catch on ten targets. Adam Humphries and Cameron Brate may find themselves at the center of the offense this week yet again.. Let’s see what Winston can do against a team with a winning record and tough defense. If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can pull off a win in a divisional rematch, it could provide a positive reaction from this fan base. If they lose, this team will return to the reality that they are far from being a winning team. For the Panthers this is a must win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
This will sure be a telling week in the NFC South.