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We were so close to greatness. Only one division has won all of its games to open the 2021 NFL regular season, with the NFC West claiming a Week 1 sweep (though the AFC West can join them if the Las Vegas Raiders upset the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night). And the NFC South was close, almost right there with them on top of the league’s hierarchy. Well, not so close. The 32 points the Atlanta Falcons gave up to the Philadelphia Eagles ensured that.
If it’s any consolation to New Orleans Saints fans (who are surely to be upset at seeing their biggest rival eating dirt, right?) their team is currently on top of things with a divisional matchup up next. Let’s dig into the NFC South standings after Week 1:
New Orleans Saints (1-0)
[sendtonews_embed video_id="b5LIAVyPyw-1506691-7498"> Point differential: +35 Stat of the week: Jameis Winston threw nearly as many touchdowns (5) as incompletions (6) in his Saints debut. I also liked this one from Canal Street Chronicles' Ross Jackson: Marcus Williams bagged his third Week 1 interception in a row, having picked off Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson in recent years New Orleans posted the most lopsided win of the week, stunning the Green Bay Packers and sending Aaron Rodgers to the bench with 10 minutes left in regulation. They were firing on all cylinders against a popular Super Bowl pick and making plays on offense, defense, and even special teams -- Aldrick Rosas got the Saints on the board first with a 44-yard field goal, despite being 12-of-21 from that range in his career, also connecting on all five of his extra-point tries. Up next: at Carolina Panthers (1-0)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)
[sendtonews_embed video_id="okOggdPU3H-1502940-7498"> Point differential: +2 Stat of the week: Mike Evans gained just 24 receiving yards while running 48 routes, a yards per routes run rate of 0.50. That ranks ninth-worst in his 111-game NFL career Tampa Bay escaped a last-second deficit to put the visiting Dallas Cowboys away in the 2021 season opener, helped by big games from Antonio Brown (121 receiving yards), Chris Godwin (105), and Rob Gronkowski (90). The return of disruptive nose tackle Vita Vea and the introduction of rookie pass rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka had their defense looking fierce, but they still allowed 29 points and got lucky with two missed field goals and a botched extra point try. A better Cowboys kicker (or better coaching decisions from Mike McCarthy) starts their season with a home loss. Up next: vs. Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
Carolina Panthers (1-0)
[sendtonews_embed video_id="TpGJe5RIGx-1506447-7498"> Point differential: +5 Stat of the week: The Panthers defense pressured rookie Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on 22 of his 43 dropbacks (51.2%), sacking him 6 times and leading to a 10-point drop in NFL passer rating Carolina beat up on an offense lacking any threat of a running game with an inexperienced passer working behind a rough set of blockers. They ranked high in a number of defensive stats, but the jump in competition from here on out is daunting. As for Sam Darnold and the Panthers offense? They never traveled more than 63 yards on a single drive and went a combined 4-of-15 on third and fourth down. Up next: vs. New Orleans Saints (1-0)
Atlanta Falcons (0-1)
[sendtonews_embed video_id="TpGJe5RIGx-1506447-7498"> Point differential: -26 Stat of the week: Falcons guard/tackle Jalen Mayfield played 41 snaps in pass protection, allowing 8 pressures (including a pair of sacks) and posting a 1.4 Pro Football Focus grade, lowest in the NFL for Week 1 Here's another stat: of the nine tight ends, wide receivers, and quarterbacks picked top-15 in this year's draft, only No. 4 overall selection Kyle Pitts failed to score a touchdown in his rookie debut. Atlanta looked inept on both sides of the ball, and there's little reason to believe they'll get better in Arthur Smith's first year on the job. Good luck next week against the reigning Super Bowl champs. Up next: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0)