Both the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers sit tied atop the NFC South at 10-4. One of them will emerge as the winner of the conference in two weeks. The question is, who will secure the division title?
In a game that was expected to be a defensive battle, the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers both displayed very efficient offenses. Unfortunately for New England, Carolina’s offense was just a little more efficient.
No one thought the Carolina Panthers were a serious Super Bowl contender when they started the 2013 season losing three of their first four games, but thanks to a five-game winning streak, they are now one of the hottest teams in the league.
Even if the New England Patriots had lost this game to the New Orleans Saints, they had still demonstrated they could go toe-to-toe with an elite NFL team. Thanks to Tom Brady and Kenbrell Thompkins, New England didn’t have to settle for a mere moral victory.
This was a game that most experts picked New England to lose, but the Patriots persevered on Sunday night to earn a 30-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. The victory allowed New England to keep pace with the undefeated Miami Dolphins for first place in the AFC East.
The 3-0 New England Patriots won’t play the 3-0 Miami Dolphins for another month, but after the AFC East rival Dolphins beat the Atlanta Falcons last week 27-23, New England’s Week Four contest at Atlanta should give the Pats some idea of where they stand compared to the Fins.
The New England Patriots still aren’t playing like an elite NFL team, but getting a 20-point win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday is a step in the right direction. If the team continues to improve, then next week’s game in Atlanta against a tough Falcons team should be very competitive.
In the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New England Patriots are facing their third weak opponent in a row to open the 2013 season. They won’t be facing a rookie quarterback this time around, but Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman is not exactly playing like a veteran.