Buccaneers now in driver’s seat to win NFC South

Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

Due to major injuries and lackluster play elsewhere in the NFC South, the Buccaneers find themselves atop the division and in the driver’s seat.

Do not look now, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sit atop the NFC South two weeks through the 2019 season, and after a string of misfortunes around the rest of the division, the banner is theirs to lose. With a record of 1-1, the Buccaneers have the same record as the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons, while Carolina Panthers sit at 0-2 on the year.

Fortunately for the Bucs as they sit in first place in the division, two of the other teams are battling major injuries at the quarterback position. Saints’ quarterback Drew Brees is slated to miss six weeks after hurting his thumb in a collision with Los Angeles Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald, while the Panthers’ gunslinger Cam Newton is still recovering from the various injuries he has accumulated over the years; this time it is his foot.

This leaves the Buccaneers, untainted by major injuries other than Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Evans, in the driver’s seat in the NFC South as the season rages on. The NFC South is one of the better, if not the best, divisions in the National Football League, so the pewter and red must remain focused as any of the Saints, Panthers, or Falcons could turn on the jets at any time.

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Even though Brees is out, the Saints have one of the best, if not the best backup in the league in former first round pick Teddy Bridgewater. They are also still surrounded by the talented offensive threats of Alvin Kamara and Mike Thomas, and a defense led by Cameron Jordan and Marshon Lattimore.

The Falcons are not suffering from any major injuries, but have not looked great after entering this season with high expectations. They too still have a ton of talent on the field with wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley aiding former MVP Matt Ryan, and a defense filled with speed and strength, anchored by Deion Jones and Grady Jarrett.

While sitting in last place in the division after back-to-back losses, including a Thursday night loss to the Buccaneers, the Panthers have Christian McCaffrey, veteran tight end Greg Olsen, and speedsters D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel offensively. Luke Kuechly remains one of the best linebackers in the league and former Buc Gerald McCoy joins a stacked defensive front in Carolina.

The Buccaneers, however, have to prepare for a long seven week stretch away from home after this week’s matchup against the New York Giants. It is paramount for the Buccaneers to come away as winners this week at Raymond James Stadium so that they carry some momentum on the road with them.

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While the Bucs have the advantage on paper over their other division foes, the games still have to be played on the field. Right now the Buccaneers are in the best position to take the NFC South crown, but can they pull off their first division title in 14 years?