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NFC South Update Heading into Week 13

Hours after the Falcons took down the Cardinals in Atlanta, the Buccaneers earned a surprising victory over the Seahawks — and by doing so, moved above .500 for the first time since Week 1. Here's a look at how the division stacks up heading into December.

Atlanta Falcons (7-4) – 1 Game Ahead
Coming off their annual bye week, the Falcons got back on track by beating the Cardinals on home turf. Atlanta's defense impressed — especially in the second half, when it allowed just six points. The offense shined, too, thanks in large part to Taylor Gabriel, who scored his fourth and fifth touchdowns in the last four games. Atlanta is currently averaging 32.5 points per game, the most in the NFL. Next up, Dan Quinn's team will take on the 8-3 Chiefs at the Georgia Dome.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 4 vs. Chiefs (8-3)
Dec. 11 at Rams (4-7)
Dec. 18 vs. 49ers (1-10)
Dec. 24 at Panthers (4-7)
Jan. 1 vs. Saints (5-6)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5) – 1 Game Behind
Prior to Sunday's bout in Tampa, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson went 19 regular season games without throwing multiple interceptions. That streak came to an end, as the Bucs, led by Bradley McDougald and Alterraun Verner, upset Seattle at Raymond James Stadium, 14-5. Tampa Bay has won three in a row and, after taking down Kansas City and Seattle in consecutive weeks, looks far more dangerous than they did on Nov. 3, when the Falcons trounced them on national television. The Bucs will try to keep the win streak alive next Sunday when they take on the 5-6 Chargers, who are coming off a win over the Texans.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 4 at Chargers (5-6)
Dec. 11 vs. Saints (5-6)
Dec. 18 at Cowboys (10-1)
Dec. 24 @ Saints (5-6)
Jan. 1 vs. Panthers (4-7)

New Orleans Saints (5-6) – 2 Games Behind
Coming off two consecutive losses, the Saints moved close to .500 on Sunday when they soundly beat the Rams, 49-21. Drew Brees had another stellar outing, gaining 310 passing yards and four touchdowns. As long as he plays at a high level, New Orleans, who only trails Atlanta in points per game (30.4) should continue to be in the playoff picture. Their defense, which has struggled at times, will receive a big challenge on Sunday when Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions visit the Big Easy.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 4 vs. Lions (7-4)
Dec. 11 at Buccaneers (6-5)
Dec. 18 at Cardinals (4-6-1)
Dec. 24 vs. Buccaneers (6-5)
Jan. 1 at Falcons (7-4)

Carolina Panthers (4-7) – 3 Games Behind
The Panthers' nightmare season only got worst last week, as the Raiders scored the final 11 points of their matchup in Oakland to defeat Carolina, 35-32. By allowing the Raiders to stage a fourth-quarter comeback, the Panthers fell into sole possession of last place in the NFC South and well behind the second playoff spot, which is currently occupied by Washington (6-4-1). To climb their way out, they'll need to fix some glaring issues — including problems in the secondary and along the offensive line. Doing so will be difficult next week when they travel cross-country to take on Seattle.

Remaining Schedule:
Dec. 4 at Seahawks (7-3)
Dec. 11 vs. Chargers (5-6)
Dec. 19 at Redskins (6-4-1)
Dec. 24 vs. Falcons (7-4)
Jan. 1 at Buccaneers (6-5)

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