Three days after the Falcons took down the Buccaneers in primetime, the Saints and Panthers earned victories of their own, keeping every team in the NFC South within striking distance. Here's how the division standings look heading into Week 10.
Atlanta Falcons (6-3) – 1.5 Games Ahead
The Falcons have won two straight matchups, the latter coming in Tampa Bay on national television. Their offense is at the top of the NFL right now, as Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and a talented group of role players have helped them earn a league-high 33.9 points per game. What's more, Atlanta is averaging 6.8 yards per play — the highest rate since the 2000 Rams, also known as the "Greatest Show on Turf."
The Falcons will try to build on their recent success next week when they hit to road to play the 4-4 Eagles, who are coming off a 28-23 loss to the New York Giants.
New Orleans Saints (4-4) – 1.5 Games Back
The Saints have a high-powered offense, as well, which has allowed them to climb out of an early slump and move into the second half of the regular season with a .500 record. Only Atlanta is averaging more points per game than New Orleans, and Drew Brees' 336.1 yards per game rank first in the league – slightly ahead of Ryan's mark (331.1). The Saints are in the middle of the pack in rushing offense, though, and with a struggling defense, their playoff hopes rest largely on Brees' arm.
They'll receive a difficult challenge next week when the 6-3 Denver Broncos, who are in a tight AFC West race, visit the Superdome.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-5) – 2.5 Games Back
Tampa Bay's season quickly went downhill after its opening weekend victory in Atlanta. Jameis Winston has yet to find consistency in 2016; the defense is near the bottom of the league in yards and points allowed; and a slew of injuries, including four at running back, have tested the Bucs' depth.
Dirk Koetter's club will try to regroup after a long rest when the 2-6 Bears visit Raymond James Stadium next Sunday.
Carolina Panthers (3-5) – 2.5 Games Back
After falling into a 1-5 hole, the Panthers have won two in a row and, in the process, have kept their postseason hopes alive. Cam Newton has improved of late, throwing just one interception in his last four appearances after tossing five in his first three. Carolina's defense appears to be improving, too: The Panthers have allowed 20 or fewer points in three of the last four weeks and held the Rams to just 10 points on Sunday.
They'll face a more dangerous opponent next week when the 6-2 Chiefs, who are riding a four-game win streak, head to Charlotte.