Saints loss on Thursday night opens the door for Bucs to run away with NFC South

After a New Orleans loss on TNF, the Bucs have a golden opportunity in Week 6.
Detroit Lions v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Detroit Lions v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

Even though the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still licking their wounds over what happened last Sunday against the Lions, things continue break their way.

On Thursday night the New Orleans Saints dropped their fourth game out of the last five, sinking them below .500 for the first time this season. Outside of wins over the Panthers, Titans, and Patriots -- teams that have a combined record of 3-15 -- the Saints have looked absolutely brutal.

Tampa Bay drop kicked them in Week 4, a week after New Orleans blew a 17-point lead to Green Bay. Houston beat the Saints by a touchdown and the team looked embarassingly out of sorts for most of the game on THursday. Even the Week 1 win over the Titans was a tight one, as the Saints managed to scrap by with only a one-point victory.

New Orleans was supposed to be the best team in the NFC South and a potential Super Bowl contender with Derek Carr taking over. Instead, they look totally lost and are in free fall while Sunday's game between the Bucs and Falcons will decide who controls the division moving forward.

Buccaneers have a golden opportunity to won NFC South in Week 6

With the Saints essentially out of the running for now, the Bucs have a chance to make up for the loss last week by taking full control of the NFC South on Sunday. A win over the Atlanta Falcons would mean Tampa Bay owns partial tiebreakers over two rivals and at least a two game lead over them as well.

No offense to Carolina, who will likely still play the Bucs tough, but they don't really factor into this conversation while sitting at the bottom of the league. The Panthers are much more concerned with how their first round pick is heading to Chicago this year than making the playoffs.

The Bucs, meanwhile, have the chance to make a statement against Atlanta. Bijan Robinson will present some problems, Drake London is starting to wake up, and the Falcons won't be an easy out. Desmond Ridder doesn't strike fear into anyone, but Atlanta has played some close game this year and has just as much at stake as the Bucs do.

While everyone has bene obsessing over the Bucs and Saints atop the South, Atlanta has a chance to come seemingly out of nowhere and flip the division on its head. If Tampa Bay loses, it will sede control of the division to the Falcons and dig itself into an even deeper hole.

It's impossible to not see this as even more of a failure in the wake of what happened against the Lions.

Here's how the NFC South stacks up after the Saints loss on Thursday night:




Tampa Bay Buccaneers



Atlanta Falcons



New Orleans Saints



Carolina Panthers



The Buccaneers have a golden opportunity in Week 6 to both bounce back from a brutal loss and assert their dominance over the division. So far the team has looked less than spectacular against upper-echelon NFC opponents, but it can start building back a case for contention with a win on Sunday.

More Tampa Bay Buccaneers news and analysis