NFC South Week 13 preview: Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in must-win mode


The NFC South features two huge games in Week 13, headlined by the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

There are two divisional games inside the NFC South this week, both with completely different stories. In one, the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will battle it out to stay in the NFC wild-card race. A win for the Falcons would be their seventh, while a sixth win for the Bucs would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker.

In the other game, the New Orleans Saints have nothing to play for with little chance of a playoff berth, but they could end the Carolina Panthers’ undefeated run. The Panthers would go 12-0 with a win and a huge step closer to the No. 1 seed.

Atlanta Falcons (6-5) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-6): Sunday at 1:00 p.m. EST

This is a huge game, and is a must-win for both teams. The winner will remain in the wild-card race, and the Falcons could actually get back into one of the two spots with victory with a Seahawks loss. For the Bucs, a win would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker and pull them closer to the wild-card teams.

When the two teams met in Week 8, four costly turnovers by Atlanta sent Tampa Bay on its way to an overtime victory. A win would be the Bucs’ first sweep over the Falcons since 2007.

The winner stays in the wild-card race, the loser is surely out of it. It doesn’t get much bigger.

Carolina Panthers (11-0) at New Orleans Saints (4-7): Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST

The Panthers enter December undefeated, and have a chance to close out the third quarter of the season without a loss. To do so, they will need to go past the 4-7 Saints inside the Superdome. Simple, right?

More from Blogging Dirty

Well, maybe not. Division games are tough, especially on the road. Of the Panthers’ 11 wins this season, only two have been inside the division and one on the road. They still face two road games inside the division, and they are not easy.

The Saints, with nothing to play for in terms of a playoff race, would love nothing more than to give the Panthers their first loss. Inside the hostile environment of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, don’t write off the Saints.

It’s tough to pick against Carolina, especially given the fact they are simply a much better football team than New Orleans. But from time to time, particularly in a division game, the best football team doesn’t necessarily win.

What are your thoughts on the two games? Will the Falcons finally get a win? Will the Panthers stay perfect?