Stock Watch: NFC South

December, 4, 2012
12/04/12
8:29
AM ET
FALLING

Drew Brees, quarterback, Saints. All season long, I’ve been saying Brees has to be better than ever to carry a team that’s got a bad defense and is dealing with all sorts of distractions. Brees was worse than ever Thursday night, throwing five interceptions against Atlanta. Brees has thrown seven interceptions in the last two games. That’s about seven too many for a team that has no margin for error.

Doug Martin, running back, Buccaneers. He’s been limited to 56 and 50 rushing yards in his last two games. Is Martin hitting the “rookie wall’’? Maybe, but I think the defenses of Denver and Atlanta had a lot more to do with keeping Martin quiet.

Brandon LaFell, wide receiver, Panthers. He dropped a sure touchdown pass that changed the complexion of the game in the loss to Kansas City.

RISING

William Moore, safety, Falcons. Moore had two interceptions in the victory against New Orleans. Very quietly, he and Thomas DeCoud have turned into one of the league’s better safety tandems.

Cam Newton, quarterback, Carolina. This guy has taken a lot of heat for the Panthers’ dismal season, but his performance at Kansas City on Sunday was solid. He threw three touchdown passes, gained 78 yards on the ground and made no major mistakes. Suddenly, the Panthers are looking a lot like they did last year. They’re a team with a decent quarterback and a capable offense, but they have no defense.

Robert McClain and Christopher Owens, cornerbacks, Falcons. When Asante Samuel had to exit with a shoulder injury early in the New Orleans game, McClain moved into his spot and Owens became the nickel back, but Atlanta’s defense didn’t fall apart. McClain finished with seven tackles and was credited with two passes defended. Owens had three tackles and defended two passes.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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