NFC South: 2011 Week 13 Wrap-Ups

Wrap-up: Texans 17, Falcons 10

December, 4, 2011

Thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons' 17-10 loss against the Houston Texans on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

What it means: This one’s not going to help Atlanta’s chances of getting to the playoffs or catching the Saints in the NFC South. The Falcons are 7-5 and could fall two games behind the Saints in the win column if New Orleans wins on Sunday night against Detroit.

What I didn’t like: The Falcons came out and tried to be very aggressive on offense early on. Nothing wrong with that. But Matt Ryan and his receivers weren’t in sync, and that got Atlanta off to a rough start. Ryan was intercepted twice in the first half. The Falcons never really got running back Michael Turner and the running game on track.

Wasted opportunities: The Falcons had two 12-play drives in the second half that didn’t result in any points. The defense played a decent game, but wasn’t able to force many mistakes by rookie quarterback T.J. Yates, who was making his first NFL start.

The streak is over: The Falcons had a streak of 14 consecutive games without allowing a running back to rush for 100 yards. That’s over. Arian Foster rushed for 111 yards.

Festival of flags: The Falcons were their own worst enemy. They had two apparent defensive touchdowns wiped out by penalties. They also weren’t able to get a play off before the play clock expired on a fourth down in the fourth quarter. Rookie Julio Jones also had a critical penalty late in the game as he made an apparent catch that was wiped out because he went out of bounds and came back inbounds.

What’s next: The Falcons travel to Carolina to play the Panthers next Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

Wrap-up: Panthers 38, Buccaneers 19

December, 4, 2011

Thoughts on the Carolina Panthers' 38-19 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.

What it means: Both teams are 4-8, but that’s about the only thing the teams have in common these days. This was a big step for the Panthers. It marked the first time they’ve put together back-to-back wins since the arrival of coach Ron Rivera. The Panthers seem to be building some positive momentum that might carry over into next season. This was a low point for the Bucs, as they lost their sixth straight game. The previous five came against good teams. The Panthers don’t quite fit that profile. But the Panthers clearly have moved ahead of the Bucs at the bottom of the NFC South.

What I liked: Carolina’s defense. This unit has been having major problems all season. But the Panthers stepped up and played perhaps their best defensive game of the season. The Bucs were forced to settle for four first-half field goals. Carolina’s run defense has struggled all season. But the Panthers did a very nice job keeping LeGarrette Blount under control.

What I didn’t like: Tampa Bay’s offense. Let’s not give all the credit to Carolina’s defense. Tampa Bay’s offense was playing without starting quarterback Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson started in his place. Blount is the kind of physical runner who has given the Panthers fits all season, but he never got on track and wasn’t much of a factor after the Panthers built a big lead.

What’s next: The Panthers host the Atlanta Falcons next Sunday. The Buccaneers travel to Jacksonville next Sunday.